Jetlagged in Spain, Ray Kerins, Pfizer’s VP for corporate communications, was working at 3 a.m. when he got an email from a company office in Asia.
The pharmaceutical giant’s Facebook page had been hijacked and was proclaiming that the company should be stopped because “they’re corrupt and the damage they create is senseless.”
The Pfizer hack wasn’t isolated. Brands are discovering not only the strengths of social media but also the pitfalls as cyber saboteurs spread ill will and computer bugs among customers and followers.
Last month hackers reportedly tweeted a malware link through the Twitter account of Apple co-founder Stephen Wozniak, and Twitter accounts for USA Today, Fox News and NBC News have been hijacked to tweet false reports of assassinations and terrorist attacks.
“Social media employees are not necessarily trained for security,” says George Lucian Petre, product manager for social media security at Bitdefender, whose free Safego tool helps protect Facebook and Twitter accounts. “So if a social media employee has access to the company page and gets infected, that page can start spreading malware.”