5 ways to guard your company against digital hackers
You think it won’t happen to you, until it does. Whether it’s your identity, your reputation or your social media accounts, digital hackers are alive and well.
Last week, Ole Miss Rebels lineman Laremy Tunsil personally learned just how social his social media accounts could be when they were hacked during the NFL’s opening draft night. Hackers attacked both his Instagram and Twitter accounts, leaking video of the 21-year-old athlete allegedly smoking marijuana inside a gas mask as well as text messages where Tunsil requests (and allegedly receives) money from his coaches to pay his rent and his mother’s utility bills.
Figure 1: Tunsil text message exchange posted on Instagram
When under fire from journalists, the young man ultimately confessed, leaving throngs of media as well as fans stunned by his admissions.
The reality is that this situation isn’t uncommon. It can happen to anyone, anytime. CEOs, celebrities, athletes and political figures represent prime feeding ground for hackers bent on destroying credibility. Make no mistake; hackers are no longer comprised of disgruntled exes who have access to account passwords. Highly skilled computer geniuses will often voluntarily mount attacks to test vulnerabilities and determine street cred. Either way, being hacked, especially during critical events such as award ceremonies (or NFL drafts), product launches or live broadcasts, can render an individual (or company) helpless. Unless, of course, you prepare.
- Maintain social media accounts: It may seem daunting to some, but keeping your social media sites up to date and active will also help alert you to hacks. Even if you are unaware of a hack, your audience will happily alert you to things that seem out of place.
- Have a crisis (or contingency) plan in place. Crisis plans provide a safety net when things unexpectedly occur. In addition to maintaining an active crisis plan, it is important to practice it or at least consider a brief run-through prior to any big event.
- Prepare a corporate/business dark site. These mock-ups of business websites and social media channels are stored on the Internet in an area much akin to a parking garage. Should you experience a hack, dark sites can be set “live” in very short order to deliver critical information, contact information, messaging statements, etc. – very useful during a crisis.
- Monitor social media accounts. It isn’t enough just to post on social media. You must engage. By being active on social media, you’ll quickly determine patterns in your fan base or following and become familiar with who posts, how often and with what type of information. The more active you are, the more information you can obtain so that, should something seem fishy or out of sorts, you can respond accordingly.
- Dismantle hacked accounts. If you are hacked, it becomes paramount to reach out to the social media channel directly to advise them of the hack. They can assist in locating the breach and will work with law enforcement, as needed, to locate the hackers.
Laremy Tunsil isn’t the first (or sadly the last) individual who will become the victim of a digital hack. However, there are steps that you can take to prevent or at least prepare for such crises that could potentially crumble a dynasty. To learn more about how to be social media responsible, download Axia Public Relation’s social media management guide to get started.
Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business and consumer public relations. She serves on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force and is a culinary enthusiast and champion for the special needs community. Wendy has worked for Axia Public Relations since September 2014. Learn more about Wendy Bulawa Agudelo. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
Featured image credit: Creative Commons
Topics: public relations, crisis communications, shared media
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