Published on: January 21, 2015by Kate McMahon
First it was U.S. Central Command.
Then Crayola crayon.
Then the New York Post and the wire service United Press International.
These most recent episodes of high profile social media accounts being hacked may cause the cyber-wary to rethink the benefits of posting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and more. I would beg to differ, and think these incidents provide important lessons on how to protect your presence on social media and how to react if compromised.
The Twitter and YouTube accounts for the U.S. Military Command that oversees operations in the Middle East were hacked last week with pro-ISIS messages and photos. The breach occurred while President Obama was speaking on the importance cybersecurity.
Then, Crayola’s G-rated Facebook page was infiltrated with decidedly off-color and lewd cartoons and posts.
And then, the New York Post and UPI Twitter accounts went off the rails almost simultaneously, with some tweets obviously bogus -- “Pope: World War III has Begun” -- but other economic news posts that could feasible.
Hacking happens – just ask Sony Pictures - along with the devastating data breaches that have plagued such retailers as Target, Home Depot, Kmart and Michaels.
Data protection is way over my head, but I’ve culled advice from security experts online on how retailers, marketers and service providers can better protect their social media sites. (Much of the advice applies to individuals as well).
Never re-use passwords: We all have a go-to password. If a hacker cracks one of your accounts, he/she will seek to use that password on other accounts.
Change your password(s) on a regular basis: Bothersome, I know, but wise.
Utilize two-factor authentication: If someone logs on to your account from a new location – a different phone or computer – they have to enter a code that’s send to a trusted device (your cellphone).
Sign up for a password manager: This software application does most of the above for you.
Beyond the nuts-and-bolts, the best advice is to make sure your accounts are diligently monitored. Hackers are in business, 24-7.
And if your account is compromised, move quickly to delete the material, reset your security and immediately notify your audience what happened. Of course if someone on your social media team made a mistake, apologize. If you are hacked, explain.
Interestingly, Crayola apologized to its Facebook community (a page with more than 2.4 million likes) for the “inappropriate and offensive posts” -- even though the manufacturer was obviously not responsible. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, even from parents of children who frequent the site. (Not surprisingly some adults found the off-color posts hilarious. I thought they were crude.)
As always, social media gave consumers the opportunity to express opinions, positive and negative, on the Crayola product, creating a dialogue and a sense of community. And that is why the benefits of social media far outweigh any risks of being hacked.
This post said it perfectly: “Not mad atcha, but could you bring back that lemon yellow crayon, please?
Comments? As always, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- KC's View: