Social media is a fantastic tool used by businesses in every sector. It provides the perfect opportunity for advertising, networking, and increased customer service and interaction. Online arenas such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are excellent forums for attracting customers and managing a brand image. It is impossible to get away from social media hype in today’s culture. There are innumerable positives, but this does not negate the risks involved for businesses whose reputation is of the utmost importance.


Social Media and Cyber Security: The Cons


Social media in the workplace has been named the number one security challenge faced by businesses today. A report by Wombat Security Technologies this year has discovered that organisations that have become victims of phishing attacks (fraudulent emails claiming to be from legitimate companies) have increased by 13% in the last year. It is social media sites that provide hackers with the platform from which to launch these attacks. They also open the doors to malware attacks, resulting in malicious software installing itself within a device or network. In fact, Facebook is considered one of the biggest threats with regards to malware infiltration. Not only this, but use of social media increases the risk of fraud, spam, and intellectual property theft.

Aside from the technical risks involved in social media use, there are also risks posed by employees who use social media at work. There can be a fine line between what is appropriate, or even beneficial, to an organisation, and what is detrimental.


Employees – What they can and can’t say


People will always be able to post whatever they want, whenever they want, but this can pose a serious risk to confidentiality and to an organisation’s reputation. What people often forget is that anything posted on the internet essentially becomes a public statement. It can then be used against an individual, business or organisation that an individual is linked to. There is always the possibility of an employee posting something inappropriate, or sharing information that should not be shared. There are countless examples of bad decisions made by employees and corporations, some of which can be laughed off as ridiculous, and others which have been extremely harmful.

One such example occurred in 2015, when 27 year old Barrister Charlotte Proudman tweeted a LinkedIn message exchanged between her and Alexander Carter-Silk, a 57 year old solicitor. Carter-Silk commented on Proudman’s appearance in her photo, to which Proudman retaliated on Twitter. This essentially resulted in both being criticised for their actions and comments against the other. It needn’t have become such a public issue, but social media usage ensured that it did.

This is just one example of how an employee could damage a professional reputation, and the guidelines must vary according to sector. The Legal sector is a particularly sensitive area, which requires tight cyber security measures at all times.


Compromised Social Media Accounts


Employees may not always be to blame for what is posted on their own social media accounts. Hacking social media accounts is becoming increasingly common, with hackers coming up with new and evolving tactics all the time. For instance, some hackers are able to post fake ‘like’ buttons on pages like Facebook, which actually results in the user downloading malware.

Hackers could also gain full access to an account, allowing them to acquire private information and passwords, or to post damaging information without the account holders knowledge.


Dealing With Social Media Threats


There are effective ways of dealing with the ever-increasing threat of social media and cyber security in the workplace, which organisations in all sectors need to take into consideration. Once these threats are neutralised, social media is a profitable tool for any business.

It is imperative that all organisations lay out clear guidelines for employees on social media usage. Ensure that all employees are clear on what is acceptable and what is not by keeping them updated on any changes at regular intervals. Continuous education on social media and cyber security issues is also crucial, ensuring your employees are aware of the ever changing and ever increasing risks.

For Legal chambers, the guidelines may need to be even more stringent. You may wish to advise employees on who they can and cannot connect with on social media. It might also be necessary to specify what they are able to share or discuss in a social arena, and how much company information can be shared. In short, all organisations need to clarify what counts as sensitive information, and what does not.

All cyber security requires organisations to develop strict policies and to keep them regularly updated. Social media usage is no exception. As threats evolve to overcome the barriers we put in place, we must have the resilience to react.

For expert information on developing social media usage guidelines for your legal chambers, contact us today.