Cybersecurity’s Latest Battle: The Rise of Misinformation on Social Media

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

The digital world is taking over. From banking to buying groceries, it’s all readily available at our fingertips. Not to mention staying connected 24/7. As a result, social media has become the center of our reality over the last decade. Unfortunately, as great of a professional and personal tool as social media has become, it has opened pandora’s box when it comes to safety concerns. As fake news and misleading storylines flood social timelines, it presents a real threat to organizational cybersecurity postures in every industry.

While social media probably isn’t the first tool that comes to mind when you think of cybersecurity, it’s a key player. Social media makes it easier for bad actors to enter your network and data. But that’s not all. Misinformation and cybersecurity affect one another in many ways. Still, at the core, social media channels are a major player in which wrong information is exchanged, leading to more significant cyber risks – let’s take a closer look.

The Dangers of Misinformation on Social Media

Misinformation is described as the spreading of false information regardless of if there is intent to mislead. Social media started as photo-sharing and life updating platforms with friends & family from all around the world. It quickly took a turn and became the number one source for local, national, and global news for many. So, where does cybersecurity come into play? Its purpose is to protect the information being spread, the users, data, and much more. Consider this:

Your organization has a Twitter account dedicated to sharing industry news; however, an employee retweets misleading content regarding proper steps to take when defending against ransomware. An employee at another company finds the content, retweets it, and then decides to implement those deceptive steps into their daily operations. Weeks later, that same company’s network has been breached by cybercriminals who entered through human error. This hypothetical example highlights how misinformation can easily lead to more significant concerns.

As more and more people rely on social media as their primary source of information, they also tend to follow like-minded people and companies that reinforce what they already think or believe. This puts a lot of pressure on individuals sharing content to ensure the information is credible. Misinformation has the power to damage a brand’s reputation, challenge valid information, and, most importantly, compromise data integrity.

Simply put, misinformation is dangerous and can be damaging. With social media growing in popularity, cybersecurity is a necessary layer of protection, and fact-checking is more important than ever. Without it, an organization’s entire information ecosystem is vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Cost of Misinformation and Social Media

Misinformation and social media have dangers that go far beyond what meets the eye. Below are three ways misinformation on social media can cost your organization money, a strong reputation, and integrity:

  • Data breaches: Suppose the misinformation shared or internalized by social media caused your network to fall victim to cyberattacks due to lack of protocol, human error, and fake news; would you know what to do? Just recently, a Business Insider report indicated that “personal information from more than 530 million Facebook users had been made publicly available in an unsecured database.” Unfortunately, social media is no stranger to data breaches. All it takes is one missed step to expose your network to cybercriminals looking to abuse your information.
  • Brand sentiment: If your organization falls victim to misinformation and spreads it, your reputation will surely pay the price.
  • Time: The more misinformation spreads online, the more research and a potential shift in narrative your organization will have to do. Establishing your organization as thought leaders instead of group-thinkers will be key here.

These are just a few examples of all the things at stake when dealing with the uncertainties of using social media platforms.

The Role of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a critical contender in protecting your organization from falling victim to misinformation and the cybercrimes that follow. Organizations utilizing social media should consider implementing cybersecurity and digital risk solutions to help win the fight against the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks caused by social media.

Below are two critical pieces of advice to consider when making cybersecurity a priority in your social media roadmap:

  1. Prioritize cybersecurity: Reviewing the solutions on social platforms will allow your organization to establish use cases and boundaries for each channel. This will also keep you from intentionally sharing your location, sentiments, and other personal information.
  2. Monitor your network 24/7: Security and compliance, risk management, and software protection platforms will provide your network with 24/7 monitoring, detection, and alerts. This will help your IT teams stay vigilant against any suspicious activity happening inside your network.

Taking the necessary steps to protect your organization from the dangers of social media and misinformation will prevent you from running into trouble down the road.