What You Can Learn From Snapchats Security Breach

What You Can Learn From Snapchats Security Breach: More than most social networks, Snapchat has worked to sell users on the promise of privacy. At the network’s heart are vanishing photos–images often of the racy variety that disappear seconds after opening, ostensibly leaving little or no digital footprint. The dream of anonymity and consequence-free texting, however, was seriously tested earlier this month. Exploiting a known security flaw, hackers were able to access the usernames and telephone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat users including, apparently, the CEO himself. Much of this private information was then made accessible online, for anyone to see.

For Snapchat’s detractors, all of this is timely comeuppance for the brash young network, fresh off turning down a $3 billion offer from Facebook. For companies that find themselves committing more and more resources to social media, however, this should also be a sobering wake-up call: Security and social media rarely go hand-in-hand. In the last year, businesses have adopted social media in record numbers. 77 percent of the Fortune 500 now have active Twitter accounts and 70 percent maintain a Facebook page, according to a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth study. Perhaps most eye-opening, 90 percent of small businesses now report using social media. But behind the enthusiasm for Twitter, Facebook, and other networks is a sobering truth. Many companies, including some of the planet’s largest enterprises, are underestimating the risks they’re exposed to on social media. There are, of course, the obvious ones. Twitter is public: Posted content can be seen by anyone and can never really be put back in the box once sent. Start a Facebook page, by the same token, and your company “wall” is as vulnerable to vandalism in the form of vicious or off-color comments as any back alley.