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Tips to save your online brand from hacking or embarrassment.

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Every once in a while, we get to take a five minute break from our workdays to marvel at social media catastrophes that happen to really, really big players. Last week, it was Burger King and HMV’s turn to be ridiculed online. Burger King’s Twitter feed got hacked, entertaining Internet users everywhere (they now have 60K new followers as a result); HMV had a disgruntled ex-employee spew resentment all over their Twitter feed, outing one of their top execs for asking to “shut this Twitter thing down”.

Hopefully, you aren’t firing your employees in a way that makes them this angry. But the Burger King situation can happen to anyone. Security will always be flawed, so how can you protect your business’ social media and online accounts?

Here are our Top 10 tips to help your business be more secure online.

1. Be smart about passwords.

Everyone laughed online about Burger King having “cheese” or “whooper” as their password. This is probably not true, but it reminds us to use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in any social media password and don’t be afraid to change them often.

2. Pay attention to the control you delegate to employees and interns.

This is especially true if an employee responsible for posting online stops working for you. If you ended on not-so-great terms, you are inviting disaster. Password change must be immediate.

3. Maintain internal control.

You need a senior-level management strategy for password admininstration, so that someone can swiftly shut it down ASAP if needed. You need top-level control and understanding of damage control, in order to avoid what happened over at HMV last month.

4. Have a domain acquisition strategy for your business.

Get the .ca, .com, .net so others do not, including any obvious misspellings. If your business is big enough, do something with similar account names and domains so that someone else doesn’t. Get on Facebook and Twitter and get the name you want. In many cases, you are probably too late.

5. Don’t give third party apps permission unless it’s important for your business or is somehow relevant.

Hootsuite is a relevant app for our business, and they are highly secure (so far!). Other apps, like online games etc, are not relevant and can pose security problems.

6. Scan for viruses on a regular basis.

One of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your system is through viruses or malware. Regularly scanning your computer and network for suspicious activity will help.

7. Make sure you are on the right website.

Sounds basic and obvious, but be careful. Pay attention to the spelling. Make sure you are not “logging” onto www.twittre.com. Before you put in your password, check to make sure you’re at the right site.

8. Don’t just click on links, especially “shortened” links.

Links can download malicious software on your computer. The problem is that on many social media platforms, links are shortened to ensure they fit. Beware of shortened links, especially from accounts you don’t know well. You might not realize they’re bad until it’s too late.

9. Review security measures.

Review your strategy and safety measures routinely, and with the appropriate folks (IT department, HR department, marketing, etc). Not everyone needs to know, but figure out who does and share with them.

10. Make sure you are watching and listening to what is going on.

If you do not check your social media accounts often, you might have been hacked and not know it until damage is done. Be on top of things early and often.

Although no security system is impenetrable, there are a few steps you can take to make your social media and online presence more secure. We try to do it ourselves. Are you taking steps to protect yourself online?

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