In recent years, social media platforms have become invaluable tools for businesses to engage with their customers, reach a wider audience and enhance their brand visibility. From TikTok’s viral challenges to Instagram’s visually appealing content — and the ever-present Twitter and Facebook — these platforms offer unparalleled opportunities for organizations to connect with their target market.

However, with great opportunities come great risks.

In this blog post, we’ll examine whether customers are aware of the potential cyber risks associated with using these platforms. We’ll also explore the security risks of social media platforms, particularly TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to organizations utilizing these tools. Lastly, we’ll discuss whether businesses should treat them like any other third-party vendor or adopt different protocols.

Customer Awareness of Social Media Risks

Despite the increasing media coverage of data breaches and cyber risks, many customers may not fully comprehend the potential risks of social media platforms:

  • Lack of Awareness

    Customers often enjoy the convenience and engagement offered by social media platforms but may not actively consider the risks of cyber threats and data breaches. They also may not understand how the information they’re providing on the platform is being used and how to set their security and data privacy settings to control how their information is shared on the platform.

  • Trust in Platforms

    Users tend to place trust in social media platforms to protect their data adequately, assuming the responsibility lies solely with the platform providers. However, social media platforms aren’t always acting in the best interests of their users.

  • Incentives to Interact

    News on social media spreads rapidly, and it can be hard to identify what is misinformation and what is real. This is especially true since the introduction of more AI-generated content.

  • Education and Communication

    Businesses can play a role in raising awareness among their customers about the risks of social media. Educate your audience on best practices for secure social media use and the importance of safeguarding personal information.

social media security risks

Social Media Security Risks: TikTok and Other Popular Platforms

It’s important to be aware of the social media security risks TikTok and other popular platforms bring to your organization.

Data Privacy Concerns

Social media platforms collect vast amounts of user data, including location information, browsing habits and personal preferences. While this data can be valuable for businesses, it also poses a significant risk if it falls into the wrong hands or is misused, and certain platforms’ data-gathering practices have even caused ads to be banned.

Phishing and Social Engineering

Cybercriminals often exploit social media as a platform to launch phishing attacks. This is especially effective because people offer a lot of personal information about themselves and others — including information that could be used to answer security questions as part of authentication on other websites.

Account impersonation is also rampant, which means employees may receive seemingly harmless messages that trick them into revealing sensitive company information or login credentials.

Malware Distribution

Social media is not immune to malware distribution. Cybercriminals may use fake accounts, links or infected files to spread malware, potentially compromising business systems.

Reputational Damage

A single social media post (even by an unauthorized or rogue employee) can cause irreparable reputational damage to a company. Negative publicity and backlash can spread rapidly on these platforms, which can be difficult to contain and counteract. This can significantly impact your bottom line.

Data Breaches and Hacking

Social media platforms themselves can also be subject to data breaches and hacking incidents. TikTok has been identified as a potential cyber risk to the United States due to the location of its parent company and data backups. And Facebook has a history of data breaches and questionable privacy practices.

If a business’s account is hacked, sensitive data and communication may be exposed.

How to Safeguard Your Business from Social Media Risks

How can businesses safeguard against the risks of social media? Start with these 4 steps.

  1. Treat Social Media Platforms as Third-Party Vendors

    Organizations should recognize that using these platforms involves a degree of risk similar to that of engaging with any other third-party vendor. So, they should review social media platforms using third-party due diligence best practices.

  2. Data Sharing Agreements

    Organizations must carefully review and understand what data is collected, how it’s used and how long it’s retained. Having a clear understanding of these aspects can help mitigate risks and serve as the foundation for a data-sharing agreement.

  3. Access Controls

    Limit access to social media accounts to only authorized personnel and those who need access. Make sure at least two people have access to avoid a single point of failure.

    Use multi-factor authentication and maintain a strong password policy, including storing your passwords securely. This will reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access.

  4. Employee Training

    Educate employees about the potential risks associated with social media usage. Train them to identify phishing attempts and account impersonation. Show them the importance of responsible social media use on behalf of the organization.

    Understanding how each social media platform could impact your risk levels helps you decide which ones to use, so you can achieve your strategic goals while also keeping your risk at an acceptable level. By staying vigilant, informed and proactive, businesses can navigate the digital landscape safely and harness the power of social media while safeguarding their data and reputation.

Stay Ahead of Social Media Risks with ZenGRC

While social media platforms present immense opportunities for businesses to connect with customers, they also expose organizations to a range of security risks. Organizations must adopt appropriate security measures and treat these platforms with the same scrutiny as any other third-party vendor.

However, managing the risks of social media does not have to be tedious or time-consuming. With the ZenGRC, companies can automate routine tasks like evidence collection and vendor risk monitoring. They can see how their social media risks impact their strategic business priorities. And they can determine the cost of securing their company from those risks with hard numbers.

If you’d like to see how ZenGRC can enable stronger social media risk management for your business, schedule your free demo today.