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Staying secure on social media

SecurityCommunity & Social Media
Last week I attended a webinar hosted by SourceForge called Web 2.0 Security: Social Media’s Effect on the Threat Landscape. It was mostly targeted at companies that have some kind of IT department, but there was still lots of great information that applies equally to the nonprofit sector.

Here are some of the things I learned:
  • Security isn’t an IT issue - it’s a people/culture issue
What this means is that you can’t go to your IT person/contractor (if you even have one) and say “make all my social media secure!”. Of course there are some things they can do, and they should be doing their part to make your systems secure in general - but especially when it comes to social media, everyone has a part to play.

What does this mean in practice? Well, you could click on a suspicious link that could lead to a virus on your computer (see below) - you need to be savvy and think critically about what sites you go to and what links you click on. Alternatively, you could share confidential information or make inappropriate comments from your organization account. These may not seem like traditional security issues (your computer won’t get infected), but they will still hurt your organization and its reputation.

  • Social media messaging is a great way to spam

Does your email remind you daily of the GREAT offers available on cheap Rolex watches and opportunities to help out Nigerian princes? Well good news - you can now get the same kind of spam through social media! This particularly happens through messaging systems on social media - for example Twitter has direct messages and Facebook has Messages. For example, I got this message recently on Twitter:

Twitter spam

Lesson: don’t click on every link you see.

  • Browsers are the new operating system

Most security threats used to be targeted at your operating system (specifically Windows). While those threats haven’t gone away, more and more it’s browsers being targeted (common browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome), because we spend so much time in our browser. In particular, a lot of malware (i.e. bad stuff) is targeted at sites that use Java and Adobe Flash - so be careful about clicking random links if it’s not a site you trust.

  • Apple won’t save you

I just posted a blog recently about viruses for Mac. But what’s even more relevant (and exciting to hackers) is Apple’s huge market share in the tablet (iPad) and smartphone (iPhone) world. Just because you use something made by Apple doesn’t mean you can be sloppy and get away with not setting good passwords or not being careful about where you click or what you download.

The truth is, no one’s quite figured out how to deal with security on social media - or even what all the potential threats might be. Your best bet is to keep using the same good practices you already use for surfing the internet and email - including setting good passwords, not clicking on suspicious links, not sharing confidential information, and acting online as you would in person (or better).