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Hackers Help Scottish Businesses Avoid Social Media Hacks

by Chris Fairbairn

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Hackers SBRCBusinesses are being warned they could be leaving themselves open to costly and reputationally damaging cyber attacks because of lax controls over staff use of social media.

While there is an ever-growing threat of sinister hacks from cyber criminals, companies are facing risk from basic negligence on proper social media usage or from discontented staff and former staff with access to online accounts.

A crack team of young ‘ethical hackers’ is now leading the charge against the menace of social media fraud attacks.

Targeting primarily Scotland’s SME’s, the hackers, working with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), offer a full-scale assessment of social media use, highlighting potential risks and offering suggestions to safeguard against cyber breaches.

Business social media accounts, even within relatively small businesses, can be accessed by upwards of a dozen individuals, leaving an alarmingly high chance of misuse or where a company may not have a coherent staff policy.

Once an unscrupulous individual has access to passwords, it can open the door to a range of damaging issues, such as fleecing company finances, infiltrating confidential client accounts, or sabotaging operations.

Ethical Hacker Greg Hyslop, said: “When we go out on site visits to Scottish businesses we find that there is a notable lack of confidence among heads of organisations when it comes to social media use.

“An often unrecognised ‘ticking time-bomb’ is the manner that passwords and details are shared – whether that is on a network, in cloud data or on scraps of paper passed around the office. This information in the wrong hands can be very damaging to the company’s reputation and can open the door to more serious fraud.

“Working with Hackers can give businesses much greater confidence in the comments that appear under the business name on Twitter, Facebook and other business networking sites.

“Much of that comes down to misunderstanding or a lack of control – and we can help solve that by presenting a range of solutions, such as individual portals and the proper use of permissions and protocols.”

As the Scottish Government and Police Scotland’s business resilience delivery arm, the SBRC has been tasked with delivering the cyber resilience strategy to help equip SME’s with the tools and knowledge to combat e-crime.

SBRC Director, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said: “The growth of social media as an important business tool is well documented, and of course, the majority of people with access to corporate accounts are well-intentioned.

“We’d never discourage social media as a marketing channel – but rather want to highlight measures that give the business owner more control and confidence online.

“We also want the 341,000 SME’s that make up the backbone of the Scottish economy to know that help in the fight against cyber crime is available.”

In an innovative tie-up with SBRC,  computer expert students on placement from Abertay University’s ‘Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures’ course will provide crucial, affordable services to protect companies – particularly vulnerable small firms – from discontented or careless staff and duplicitous criminals.

The assessments can vary from a cyber footprint review which assesses what information is available online about a business and how that can be better managed, to a full cyber security test which looks to identify the risk of unauthorised intrusion from an external or internal source.

Forensic students from Glasgow Caledonian University are also assisting the SBRC develop an app for businesses which will significantly support SME’s across Scotland.

Other cyber assessments can be done to test the robustness of a business’s supply chain, assessing how secure suppliers and sub-contractors are from e-crime.

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