You're given 140 characters to express a thought on Twitter. In 140 characters, you can influence your following, and perhaps even go viral. Maintaining a Twitter account for customers to interact with your small business could help you grow your clientele, especially if a tweet gains traction.
Going viral, however, is a double-edged sword. Based on how the tweet has been interpreted by the public, your harmless joke could be misinterpreted as a mean-spirited jibe. Customers could start a hashtag #boycott[insert your business here].
But what if you didn't tweet what the public is decrying? What if, somehow, a hacker was able to get access to your account and shared obscene and cruel tweets?
This happened to hundreds of Twitter users recently, with companies like Forbes and Blockchain falling victim to a hacker who tweeted images of the Nazi party swastika and declared that the countries Germany and Holland were Nazis. In an email exchange with the Boston Globe, a Twitter spokesperson said the hacking of hundreds of Twitter accounts was brought about by a third-party application, called Twitter Counter. After finding what channel the hacker used to post the ugly messages, Twitter IT staff disabled the third-party app and disclosed what had happened to the users affected and the general public.
The motivation behind the Twitter cyberattack was simple: the hacker was frustrated by the political climate in Germany and Holland and their alleged distaste for the Turkish government. The tweet the hacker dispersed from multiple high-profile accounts not only name-called these countries, it also seemingly sang the praises of Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip ErdoÃ„Å¸an by linking to a video of the president.
Bad Business: When Hackers Wreck a Message
Imagine your small business' Twitter account being used to perpetuate such vitriolic images of hate. Do you think your followers will be able to recognize that you weren't the poster?
The public will not readily know that your account has been hacked and will blame you for perpetuating hate speech. With companies becoming more politicized since last November's election, a cybercriminal's activity on your company's social media accounts might look like you are taking a stance.
This could cause serious financial ramifications for your company.
To help curb a potentially nasty cyber situation, CyberPolicy offers cyber risk insurance. Cyber risk insurance covers the financial costs of a cyberattack, including paying for damaged IT equipment and issuing funds to your company should it suffer from business interruption. If a boycott hashtag targeting your business is liked, shared or re-tweeted, prospective customers will be turned off to your brand. It's for this reason that your business' cybersecurity is so important. Though you should maintain cyber insurance coverage, you should also deploy strong cybersecurity protocol at your business. This includes using two-point authentication measures, granting digital access only to staff who require it and setting cyber office rules that everyone, including the boss, must follow.
If you should experience a social media hack, report the incident to your cyber insurance agent immediately. Using a non-corrupted electronic messaging, inform your customers and followers that you have been hacked, and remind them what your company stands for.