We see the social media accounts of well-known national organizations and companies hacked far too often. While it’s easy to assume that small businesses or personal brands are not a target, it’s something we can’t be sure of. Because of this, it’s a smart idea to take a few extra steps and spend a few extra minutes to guard your brand online. Here are a few security tips you can follow to protect your reputation online.
1. Only log in on a private, trusted computer
Do not log in to your social media accounts on a public computer [this means the county library or the Apple Store (seriously…if I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a stranger’s Facebook account open on a demo iMac..!)]. Leaving control of such a large element of your online brand to the kindness of a stranger is not smart. You never know what kind of tweets or other updates the person who finds your account may leave.
2. Use a strong password
When you set up your accounts, use a strong password. You don’t want to use something a hacker or stranger could guess like…oh, say, password123 or some other variation. A strong password is best described as one with at least 10 characters that includes upper- and lower-case letters and symbols. There are many online password generators that you can use to create your strong password; I like this one.
3. Run alerts on your business’ or brand name and URL
Running alerts on these terms associated with your brand will let you know when someone is misusing them. Though the future of Google Alerts is unclear, you can still set up alerts and have them delivered via email to your Gmail account. You can set up or manage your Google alerts here. In addition to Google Alerts, I’m also fond of Mention.net, which delivers alerts via email, RSS feed and apps. It is a paid service (with a generous free trial offer), but the prices are super reasonable. I love the interface and the reliability of the notifications.
4. Use two-step authentication
With the exception of Pinterest and Foursquare, all of the most popular social networks now offer account access using two-step authentication (or two-factor authentication/verification). This means, as the term suggests, that you’ll have to confirm your identify in two ways when logging in to your account. You’ll have to enter the password you’ve chosen, and then you’ll receive a text message with a code that you’ll also have to enter. I use two-step authentication whenever I see it offered. It gives me peace of mind to know that more than just a password is required to gain access to my accounts. You can do this with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter.
5. Implement smart security measures on your blog
If you’re a (self-hosted) WordPress user, you’re familiar with the global security breach that happened last Spring. When I install WordPress on a new site, I always, at a minimum, (1) install WordPress in a sub-directory, (2) delete the “admin” user, (3) install the Wordfence or iThemes Security plugins, and (4) update my theme and plugins as soon as developers make updates available. There are other things that can be done, but if you take those four steps, you’ll be doing a world of good toward protecting your WordPress site. I had a WordPress site of mine hacked a couple of years ago. Though I was able to restore much of the content from the database, it was still a nightmare, causing me hours of frustration and downtime. I guess I have to say I’m grateful for the lesson, and I now practice smart WordPress security without fail.
Guarding your brand online doesn’t take much time as many of these tips are things you only have to do once or tasks you can automate. I practice all of these tips, so I feel good knowing that I’m doing all I can to protect my accounts from hackers and crazies.
Have you taken any of these steps to secure your online brand? Have you ever had any of your social media accounts hacked?