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Quarter 3, 2012

 

The 7 Security Secrets of Social Networking

Social networking is like a worldwide cocktail party – new friends, fascinating places and tasty apps. Connecting is advantageous for businesses, but left unchecked, can be dangerous. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can deliver malware and phishing scams, while business-oriented sites, like LinkedIn, allow for corporate espionage and employee manipulation. Avoiding social networking is naïve; besides, the benefits outweigh the dangers. To help protect your business, you can apply discretion to your social strategy and lock down your sensitive data with these security secrets.

 

1. Possession is ten-tenths of the law
When you put your business’ information on a social network, you may forfeit your right to that information. When you establish a Facebook or Twitter page to attract followers, you’ve just publicized your customer list for competitors.
Solution:
Think through how much information you share and with whom. 1. Create a strategic plan that defines what information can and should be shared. 2. Consider attracting new prospects rather than a following of existing (and poachable) customers. 3. Post only publicly available, marketing-based data. 4. Don’t rely on a policy to communicate your requirements for social media. Build a culture of privacy, allowing the entire team to co-create a solution.


2. Lack of education is the greatest source of risk
Behind most security failures is a poor human decision. An employee, not a machine, decides to spend their lunch break using their work computer to post on personal social sites. They do so because the business has not established guidelines or educated them on the risks. More than 30% of all malware is delivered to corporate computers through personal social networking conducted by employees on work computers.
Solution:
Educate your team as individuals first, employees second. 1. Motivate employees to protect their own social profiles first. By doing so, you are lowering the malware and fraud they introduce into your computers and giving them the framework to protect the company’s social networking efforts. 2. Discuss what it has to do with your organization’s social networking strategy. Employees will come to the table with emotional buy–in and awareness.


3. Most risks are old scams with new twists
At work, you receive a post from who you think is a friend stating, “Check out what [another friend] is doing now!” Seemingly harmless, you click on a video or link and presto, you’ve infected your computer with malware that gives cyber thieves access to your company network. You’ve been tricked by a repackaged version of the virus-delivering spam emails of years ago.
Solution:
Discuss social spam self defense with your team. 1. Give examples of social spam, click-jacking and like-jacking. 2. If an offer is too enticing or doesn’t feel right, don’t click! 3. If you do click and aren’t taken to the site you expected, don’t click a second time. This gives cyber thieves the ability to download malware onto your system. 4. Use strong passwords that are different for each site and change them frequently. 5. Not all “friends” are who they say they are. Call your contact and verify their post.


4. Cyber thieves look for open doors
Data thieves don’t deliver malware to just any business. They target those that have done the least to protect their computers, networks, mobile devices and connections. Why burgle a house with deadbolts and an alarm when there’s a home with the front door wide open? In business, the open door is poor computer security.
Solution:
Thieves get discouraged when you put roadblocks in their way. 1. Hire an IT professional to conduct a security assessment on your network and: a. Install a security suite on every computer, including mobile devices. b. Set up automatic security updates. c. Build a firewall to block cyber criminals. d. Configure Wi-Fi networks with WPA2+ encryption. 2. Be prepared for a breach and have identity protection and recovery services in place.


5. Data criminals exploit our defaults
The broadcast nature of social networking allows thieves and competitors to exploit your information. When users set up social networking profiles, they tend to accept the default account settings. When you establish a Facebook account, by default, your name, date of birth, hometown, friend list and every post you make is available to more than one billion people.
Solution:
Change your defaults! On a personal level: 1. Limit who can view your information. 2. Disallow Google to index and share your profile. 3. Businesses should leave the indexing feature on to maximize search engine traffic. 4. Post to friend groups, not the entire world. This isn’t only safer personally, it also makes for more targeted and appreciated customer service. 5. Update your defaults regularly as social sites make frequent changes.




6. Social engineers mine social networks to exert influence
Your organization’s greatest threat isn’t malware or information scraping. It’s a data spy’s ability to get to know you and your co-workers through your online footprint. Social engineering manipulates data out of you using emotional triggers such as similarity and likeability. A social engineer’s greatest deception tool is to gain your trust. After cultivating what appears to be a legitimate relationship, social engineers manipulate you for information.
Solution:
Verify someone’s intentions and credibility before you trust them. 1. Don’t befriend strangers. 2. Don’t accept a secondhand friend unless you know your existing network trusts that person. 3. Don’t believe anything you read until you verify it with a reputable source. 4. Never send money, download an app or provide sensitive information unless you know the request is legitimate and your communication is private and secure.


7. There are no secrets
In social networking, there are no secrets. Once you hit Post, your information becomes public, permanent and exploitable. You have little control over how it is forwarded, accessed by others or subpoenaed by law enforcement. Digital DNA has no half-life, it never disappears and it can be used against you.
Solution:
Don’t just read, act! 1. Revisit the information you share in your profiles and remove it. 2. Modify your privacy and security defaults and share only with people you trust. 3. Educate your team from a personal perspective first and then apply it to your organization’s needs. 4. Elevate your defenses by securing your computer network with software and recovery services. 5. Research fraud and social engineering tactics to protect yourself and your company.


Recovering from data breaches is more expensive than prevention. In addition to causing customer flight and depreciated value, data breaches can cost millions of dollars, which explains why many small businesses go bankrupt after a data loss event. Companies that prepare for the coming onslaught of social networking fraud can escape relatively unaffected. Make sure you’re prepared. Visit our online security information center at GoSafeguard.com for the resources you need to help protect your business from fraud and identity theft. Or contact your local Safeguard consultant for a complimentary fraud risk analysis. To locate a consultant in your area, call 800.616.9492.

 

Top Five Branding Mistakes

Businesses that Avoid These Mistakes are Much More Likely to Survive
In today’s global marketplace, you are no longer just competing with businesses across town, but often with companies across the country or even across the ocean. With so many options readily available, customers are looking for something that stands out among the sea of choices. Businesses can quickly get lost among the large companies that have internal departments specifically devoted to successfully marketing their brand. But by avoiding these common mistakes, you can more easily beat your competition and successfully capture the attention of potential customers.

What is a Brand?
Creating a strong brand identity for your company is vitally important to its success. So what exactly is a brand? It’s much more than just a logo and a tagline – it’s the heart of your company and how your customers think and feel about your business. What makes you different from your competitors? Excellent customer service? Unequaled experience? Even the smallest things that positively reflect the core values of your company can be incorporated into your brand. By preserving a true and consistent message, you will create an instant emotional connection with your customers that will last a lifetime.

1. Printing Key Documents on Blank White Paper
This is the biggest mistake we see: printing an important quote, invoice or proposal on blank white paper. Take every opportunity to display your logo and reinforce you brand – including the paper that you print your forms on. This will not only give your company a professional look and feel, but the customers will be reminded of their experience with your business every time they see your colorful logo on their receipt.
2. Letting an Amateur Design Their Logo
The second most common mistake is letting an amateur design your logo. Logo design is no place for employees, family or friends who like to “dabble.” They might be creative, but they don’t know how to create a brand that will work in all media (Web, emails, print, signs, etc.). They haven’t studied what color will work to suit your business, and they don’t know about developing a unique positioning statement. The logo is often your customers’ first impression of your business – a professional designer can ensure that impression is a good one.
3. Being Inconsistent with Their Brand
This usually goes with having an amateur design the logo. Rely on a professional that knows you must have brand rules and total consistency to make sure you look and sound the same every time you contact your customer. Constantly changing the face of your company or trying to make your brand stand for too many things at once can be confusing for those who are trying to decide where to take their business. Have a clear, concise message and make sure that message is consistently delivered in everything you do.
4. Not Having a Real Brand or Position
Many of the small– and medium–sized businesses in the U.S. do not have a real brand logo or position. They might have “stylized” text that only they recognize, or they might have an acronym laid out on a piece of paper or a sign. But they have no brand or company image that their customers and potential customers will easily recognize. They are likely to be one of the three out of four businesses that do not survive to their 10th anniversary.
5. Not Using a Professional for Website Design and eMarketing Services
In a time when many people do their research and shopping online, your website might be the first contact your customer has with your business. Without the help of a professional to design and host your website and email marketing, you could end up with a homemade site that makes your business look small and unskilled and turns customers away before they even see the significant value you offer over your competitors. Make the investment in a professional partner for designing and hosting your website. You never get a second chance to make a first impression online.