After a story broke recently about Wired.com writer Mat Honan getting “epically hacked”, there has been an swell of articles reminding users to take precautions to stay safe online. The basic commandents are these:
- Have very unique passwords that aren’t real words, or have random words jumbled together. Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (like @, !, and #). Never use obvious things, like your name, family member names, or the word “password”.
- Have automatic, secure backup on your computer. This is worth paying for! Top backup programs include Carbonite, Dropbox (for files only), and Mozy. Most of these are around $5-$8 per month. If you only want to back up files and documents, Google Cloud or Documents are also options.
- Be careful who you give your passwords to or where you store them. Try to not use the same password for all accounts, especially email and social media.
So why do these tips matter to social media marketers? The fact remains that because social media accounts are so interconnected with the rest of our online lives (think of how many websites use your Facebook account login via the Facebook API) that is is crucial to keep them secure. This is especially true for companies and the individuals that manage the corporate accounts.
Facebook and Gmail offer two-step authentication for account users. Any time someone tries to log into your account from a new computer, a text message is automatically sent to your phone with an access code for logging in. Yes, it is an additional step, but think of what is at stake. In Mat Honan’s case, the hacker erased his entire email account and his iTunes account. To activate two-step authentication, go to the security settings in your account.
Each social media profile for your company or as an individual should have a separate password. It could follow a simple pattern, such as the first 4 letters of the company name plus 01, then the next 4 letters of the company name: “perf01orma”. Except, make sure the numbers are random or don’t follow a set pattern. It is important to be as random as possible so hackers won’t figure out the pattern, thus granting access to multiple accounts.
The main point when it comes to internet security is to just use common sense. Check URLs to make sure they are the correct site before inputting passwords and don’t get lazy about being proactive about staying secure.
Kelsey Jones runs her own social media and search marketing business, The Social Robot, where she helps clients grow their online presence. She was voted one of the top 100 marketers of the year by Invesp in 2009 and has worked for Yelp, Run.com, and Bounty Towels. Check her out at The Social Robot and on Twitter @wonderwall7.