Should envoys be more anti-social?

Business executives and diplomats who are negligent with their digital presence or ‘over-share’ on social media can compromise their reputation and leave their organisations vulnerable to a crippling cyber attack, online reputation management experts warned a gathering of economic attachés of the AERL.

Dave King of Digitalis Reputation told diplomats that online content was now the primary tool for research into an individual or company – by investors, the media, prospective clients – and that negative content could damage the reputation of a brand or a country and even knock value off the share prices of a company.

It was critical, therefore, for high-profile individuals, companies and government organisations to give themselves a regular “online healthcheck” to monitor the publicly available information about them.

Although there is vast amounts of content on the internet, technology is available that can sift and monitor how social media content is shared, said King. A decision should then be made as to what to do to mitigate any negative content by promoting positive content to offset it.

“People say Google is unfair, that it’s judge and jury, but it is possible to take some control of the content,” said King, whose company has developed technology that can give clients a degree of control over their online presence.

However, he did warn that it is an inevitable feature of human nature that salacious “colourful” stories move up the ranks of Google faster because they attract more attention.

The growth of social media has also dramatically increased the risk of a cyber attack as sensitive data is inadvertently shared and can be pieced together by hacktivists to mount an attack, said Charlie Bain, who is an expert on human cyber vulnerability.

“You can spend millions on the best technical defences but if you ignore what your staff or family members are putting online, then you are losing the cyber battle,” said Bain.

The most damaging cyber attacks on corporations, such as Sony and TalkTalk, started as social engineering where hackers identified via social media a vulnerability with an employee, then used sophisticated ‘phishing’ to trick them into giving them access to the system.

“If you have social media, use it safely and securely and upgrade your privacy settings to the maximum,” said Bain.

If you are a high-profile individual or you do a sensitive job, Digitalis recommends diplomats consider being a little more anti-social.

PHOTO: Bain of Digitalis with AERL Chairman Nicholas Niggli