Social Media and the Shared Privileged Account: Preventing Costly Account Takeovers

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What better way to take your brand viral than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, right? They’re fast, popular and we can open two-way dialogue on any topic-of-the-day. The whole marketing industry has taken to these channels to build brands. You know who else is paying attention? The Electronic Syrian Army. Anonymous. Defonic Team Screen Name Club hacking collective. Malicious insiders. And angry former employees. As quickly as social media can build a brand, it can tear one down.

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, they are also becoming more adept at stealing social media administration credentials and taking control of your company’s social media accounts. We witnessed this from the hacks of several large organizations over the last year. For businesses, account takeovers can lead to the publishing of false information that can result in lasting, compromised brand reputations and in some cases significant financial losses.

Just look at one of the most glaring examples from the past year when Burger King’s Twitter account was compromised. During the hack, the company’s Twitter account was made to look like McDonald’s with a post that said Burger King had been sold to McDonald’s. Not a good look for two corporate giants. This attack served as a wakeup call for all businesses that hackers can cause significant brand damage by gaining access into social media accounts. Attacks like this one can gain press and notoriety … fast! If the President, Associated Press and CNN are susceptible, don’t you think your company could have an issue?

If you have been reading our blog regularly, you can probably guess that privileged accounts play a role in these attacks. The team at CyberArk analyzed a number of these recent attacks compiled in a whitepaper, Social Media and the Shared Privileged Account: Preventing Costly Account Takeovers. The paper details how social media accounts are effectively poster children for the vulnerabilities associated with shared privileged accounts. After all, the passwords for these accounts hold significant power, are often easy to crack and are shared among teams, making them easy targets for hackers and malicious insiders.

To combat the growing incidence of social media hacks and mitigate the risks of compromise, CyberArk recommends that organizations properly secure and protect social media accounts by viewing them for what they are— privileged accounts—and implement the same best practices as they would for any privileged account security project.

The threat to social media is real and the risk is increasing. Preventing account takeovers through shared privileged accounts is imperative and necessary. Privileged Account Security solutions play a critical role in protecting access to social media accounts thereby preventing embarrassing incidents that can result in brand damage.

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