Contain your spills: Is your business prepared against a lapse of Digital Security?

by Kenny Murray

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

One of Scotland’s Top Hackers Explains How to Guard Your Firm and avoid a Social Media PR spill

Social Media PR image showing tea being poured onto a keyboardINSURANCE is big business and it’s easy to see why. In the world we live in, we routinely buy and operate machines that cost a fortune and could also cost a whole lot of damage.

It’s a criminal offence to drive a vehicle without insurance, because of the extensive damage that it could cost you or others.

Not only that – but you would have to have deep pockets to fork out the cost of fixing your vehicle (or someone else’s) if something unfortunate were to happen.

It’s not just modes of transport though – we take out home insurance, phone insurance, pet insurance, business premises insurance, the list goes on.

The Security Threat

So is your business taking the same precautions to safeguard against potential hacking or highly damaging access issues – including your firm’s social media channels?

With the growth of cybercrime it seems almost foolish that many of us still don’t routinely keep up to date with the latest in security for social media, websites, systems and servers – and once in place, don’t then regularly audit their preparations.

The Insurers

For a number of years we’ve worked closely with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), an organisation that aims to ensure businesses are protected from crime across a variety of sectors.

One of its mainstays is cybercrime, where it is helping businesses – from major banks to start-ups -tackle crime in this rapidly growing area of criminality.

To do this, they hire what they term, ethical hackers. Armed with the technical nous and know-how to match the cyber criminals, they choose to put it to good, rather than bad.


Ethical Hackers SBRCWe have the creds when it comes to communicating the risks of cybercrime. Judged by our peers, our work with the SBRC won two golds at the most recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations awards. Read more in this link


So we’ve teamed up with its chief hacker, Gerry Grant, to provide some top tips for you to consider when looking at the security of your social media channels, your systems and your servers.

Gerry’s Top Tips to Prevent Security Spills

  • Set a secure password. This should be made up of a series of letters, numbers and contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase. It may be hard to remember – but never write it down anywhere.

Gerry said, “You’d be surprised the number of people who set these secure passwords and then write it on a post it note and stick it to their computer or on a notice board in the office.”

  • Use a different password for different channels. Never use the same password for different social media sites and/or your internet server. This could compromise an entire system.

Gerry said, “It may be difficult to remember complex passwords. However using the same password for multiple sites is a recipe for disaster.  One breach could give access to an entire computer system”.

  • Check who has access to your social media channels and their passwords. Ensure that they should still have access.

Gerry said, “Social media channels aren’t really considered the security breach that they could be. Social media passwords are often given out to interns, junior members of staff and those who very well could be a future security breach.

“There’s also the likelihood that someone could log into an account and leave it logged in when they leave, presenting access to sensitive messages, billing details for advertising and much more.”

The resulting PR disasters

This is where our work and that of the SBRC crosses over.

These tips from Gerry aren’t to tackle an unforeseen challenge. These things are actually happening on a daily basis with public relations consequences.

So much so, a lack of cybersecurity could have affected the outcome of the Presidential election. The Democratic Party in the US had sensitive emails hacked and released, after a senior member of staff changed his password as part of a basic phishing scam.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party had his Twitter account hacked, quite famously, after a staffer left a phone in a bar. With potential to cause a whole lot of upset by tweeting or messaging certain individuals – luckily the person who found the phone was playing a joke more than anything – with no serious intent to cause issues.

The Social Consequences

It’s not just politicians who are prone to lapses of concentration when it comes to access issues.

As mentioned in our past posts on social media, HMV provided interns and junior staff access to its social passwords. This spectacularly backfired when one of those staffers made HMV’s demise international news as they live tweeted their own redundancy.

You would think that lessons have been learned.

Yet somehow, on the 16th of March 2017, McDonald’s got involved with the biggest Twitter troll of all time, The President of the United States of America. Yes, that’s right. Donald Trump – the man that we credited with possibly being the saviour of Twitter.

However, all was not as it seemed, as their account had been hacked and they tweeted insults to Donald Trump – causing the international news to go into meltdown as they rushed to report.

In the case of HMV and McDonalds, it all sounds very amusing. However, with tweets being shown to cause a dramatic rise and fall in stock prices – there are serious consequences.

Avoid a Social Media PR spill: Speak to the experts today

Speak to both Holyrood PR and the SBRC to ensure your social accounts run smoothly without being run aground by an aggrieved former employee or a malicious hacker.

Get in touch today, using the form below or by calling 0131 561 2244 and find out how we could work together.

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