Understanding How Social Media Becomes Weaponized and How to Managed Associated Digital Risks

“Social media” is to “cyber attacks” as “respiratory” is to “blood borne diseases:” A new type of transmission causes exponential proliferation and ugly, new mutations.

For those who aren’t as fond of analogies as we are, consider Forrester’s Nick Hayes explanation in a recent blog post, “For the most part, social media doesn’t create wholly new cyber threats, but it does substantially amplify the risks of existing ones.”

According to Hayes, social media is a cyber weapon to contend with for the following reasons:

  • Major social networks [including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn] can’t secure fully their own environments – let alone yours.
  • Social media scams are highly-effective and lucrative. 
  • Cyber criminals weaponize social media and its data.

This means:

  • False accounts are prolific.
  • People fall time and again for scams such as counterfeit sales, fake brands, and other fraudulent schemes.
  • Malware has a new, highly socialized, transmission vector.

We live in a world infused by social media. It is likely that you and most of your employees have some kind of social media presence. And it’s likely that your company relies in some way, even primarily, on social media to amplify marketing efforts and improve customer engagement. Finally, it is likely that your customer base assumes both of the former truths. Bad actors take advantage of all of the above.

Here’s a tricky reality: even if you, your employees, and your company make a conscious decision to remain disengaged from social media for whatever reason, bad actors will take advantage of common assumptions to falsify your presence. Bottom line: In today’s world, regardless of your level of engagement, social media creates corporate risk. This means security, IT, marketing, and other key executives must factor the risk of weaponized social media into operational strategies.

You get the point.