Social Media's More Sinister Turn

Social Media is becoming more of a factor in the brand protection scheme of things. Once an arena where your brand can become damaged by disgruntled consumers venting on your brand's page and your open mishandling of the situation, Social Media is becoming more of a scammer's haven for causing damage.

2015 was the year that brand attackers began to target social media and important trends began to emerge that will prove to be a dominant issue in the context of security and management this year.

Support Agent Impersonation

Fraudsters, hackers and scammers will use  phony customer service accounts for phishing the credential of customers, stealing their personal information which would allow them to compromise a brand's reputation. Phishing banking credentials is just the start when it boils own to fraudulent accounts.

Over the past year or so, researchers have been able to identify thousands of phony social media profiles which support the distribution of malware, the sale of counterfeit products, and more. In 2016, brands should expect the threats to advance and spread, targeting business customers in a vast array of verticals that utilize customer accounts, whether it is to deepen loyalty with customers or providing other services.

Social Shaming

Public shaming which is driven by mobs of Internet users aimed to harass companies has become increasingly popular. Some observers have likened this phenomenon to online lynching, where the social media platform of choice has been Twitter. Brand and organizations of all sizes are challenged with combating this new form of aggressive social media harassment. What it comes down to is social mobs protesting a position or action that a brand or individual has taken.

In addition to Twitter, these types of attacks are broadcast across the social media spectrum, from Facebook to LinkedIn and even Instagram. The outcome of such social lynching can be as many as 20,000 plus negative posts on social media. Most of the time, this is as simple as copying, pasting and posting the comments of a central figure. This year I see these attacks growing in social media, where these mobs attack individuals and companies, whether it be be for a cause or to steal financial data or other personal info.

This is a dire risk for brands and other organizations as it is aggressive and conducted by literally thousands of individuals looking to cause damage to their targets. It is not all dark, as social media' strength is its weakness as well. When attackers have the ability to reach an infinite number of potential targets using a solitary Social Media profile, it makes it much easier to catch the culprit. This can be done by using a customized tool designed to catch such attackers and should be a part of any compliance and security solution. Countering these threats should include a strategy that will detect impersonation of support accounts, the ability to manage conversations, and verifying accounts.

More so, a system must be in place that detects potential infractions round the clock, identifying not only threats but the severity of threats and returning it to the brand in a visual manner. From a more organic perspective, the best defense against social mobbing is building up your reputation by such tactics as amassing as much social trust as possible. This could be done in a number of ways such as amassing reviews and establishing your brand as a trusted authority. This will not only increase your brand's reputation but it will lessen the impact of shaming and minimize any damage.