One in five SMEs have fallen victim to cyber attacks on their social media accounts, with many not recognising the risk until it is too late, according to a new report.
Research by Slater and Gordon found that 20 per cent of firms have been hit by attackers, with half suffering significant damage to their businesses as a result.
A further one in four also admitted to being locked out on at least one occasion because whoever had the login details had left the company or gone on holiday.
Small businesses often do not notice the risk until it is too late, the report said, and nearly two thirds of social media hackers demand a ransom to hand back control of accounts.
The survey also revealed that many SMEs neglect to pay attention to social media.
One in four managers rarely check, if at all, to see what their firms are saying on social media – or what people are saying about them. 60 per cent show the same disregard for popular review sites like Trip Advisor and Glassdoor.
Many of the small business leaders questioned do not have access to their companies’ social media account credentials, instead handing over control to younger or more junior staff based on the assumption that they will be more tech-savvy.
More than a third of the SMEs surveyed do not have a social media policy and 40 per cent offer no training about posting comments to accounts that could damage the firm.
Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of SME managers were not familiar with the Advertising Standards Authority’s CAP code of conduct and one in ten have broken it already.
“The worst that can happen to an SME on social media is something going viral that you didn’t intend to, or if your account gets away from you and you can’t take it back,” said Steve Kuncewicz, principal lawyer in business advisory at Slater and Gordon. “Ensure that you hold that data centrally and make sure more than one person has access to it.”
Matt Smith | @MattCASmith