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What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago social media barely existed and today just about every individual and business on the planet has a social media presence online. And with corporate accounts often managed by multiple individuals there is a treasure trove of information available.

Social media is an attractive target for hackers. “It’s an easy way to get information on individuals,” said Don Konzon, Phoenix campus chair for the College of Information Systems & Technology at University of Phoenix. Not just the social media posts that are published, but also the “hidden” or “private” data that is supposedly protected by various security settings. According to a University of Phoenix survey, approximately two-thirds of adults in the U.S. with social media accounts have been hacked and nearly half of them don't feel secure.

Use strong pa$$words

Use a strong password consisting of at least 12 characters of random numbers, letters and symbols. In a University of North Carolina research study it was discovered that most users create predictable passwords that make them easy to crack. For example, using a $ in place of an S, for instance. This makes it relatively easy for hackers to either guess the password or use a computer program that automatically tries different combinations. Symantec has a random password generator that you can use to help create more secure passwords for all of your online accounts.

Don’t use the same password

Create a different password for each social media account. In a 2010 survey by Symantec, only 18 percent of respondents reported having a different password for each site and the majority of them, 64 percent, don’t change their passwords often. While using the same password for multiple accounts may be easier to remember, it also makes it easier for the hacker to gain access to your accounts.

Change passwords often

Most hackers know that the vast majority of users don’t change their passwords very often. This allows them to take their time to penetrate a target. So regularly changing your passwords will help make your account more secure. Stanford University recommends changing passwords at least twice per year.

Limit account accessibility

In a corporate environment you often have multiple individuals managing social media accounts. Therefore, it is important to limit accessibility to only those individuals whom you can trust and educate them on your corporate security policy. Be sure to immediately revoke access to users who no longer need them or are no longer employed with the company.

Use multi-factor authentication

Whenever possible you should use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication adds another layer of security protection by requiring the use of a device to verify the identity of a user. When multi-factor authentication is enabled, users must enter an access code that is sent to their smart phone to gain entry or make changes to an account.

Image Credit: Jason Howie | Flickr

social media can attract customers to your businessSocial media has changed the way we communicate. In an instant, you can broadcast a message that could be read by millions of people around the world. Companies are using social media services to respond to customer inquiries, keep an eye on trends and increase brand awareness.

But what many small business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals really want to know is how they can connect with their customers and grow their business. So, with that in mind, here are five proven ways to do just that:

megaphone business manWith over 645 million active users and more than 500 million tweets per day, Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms around. And businesses of all sizes from entrepreneurial start-ups to major corporations are using Twitter everyday to attract new followers and find customers.

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