Enterprise Social Media Help

How social media can contribute to fraud

The use of social media increased in 2020 as more and more households sheltered in place and shifted from working and learning in traditional environments to their home. This pivot created a number of conversations taking place in online mediums both socially and professionally.

However, what the average user may not know, posting their home videos on TicTok or pictures of screenshots with backgrounds on Facebook or Twitter revealing their email on their laptop or zoom hosted team calls, the online hackers are lurking behind the scenes gathering the info. For instance, a user is excited to virtually host a team call using zoom and decided to share the new developments of their new found working from home best practices on Instagram with a snapshot of the zoom attendees. This now opens the door for one of the top social engineering tricks by impersonating someone in the organization over the phone–an online hacker can use a name they see in the zoom screenshot and try to access records claiming to be the employee. This scheme and scenario has been playing out in organizations for years to gain insight into organization hierarchies and systems.

To gain an understanding of how these scams proliferate, take a moment to read this article published by Fast Company: I’m an ethical hacker. Here’s how I could use social media to scam you.

One of the skill sets executive assistants and business administrators need to add to their arsenal is cyber security gatekeeper. There are a number of tactics scammers use and it could be costly to the company when they are not shutdown. Below is a short list to keep in mind but this booklet is a great resource that helps identify some of the most common scams: Scams and your Small Business published by The Federal Trade Commission.

  • Phone Phishing–pretending to be an internal employee requesting to verify team contact information. One of their tactics is establishing a sense of urgency for a task but their internet is down and they need a phone number or email.
  • Fake email--this one is highly sophisticated and anyone can easily fall victim. The email may come across from an internal employee requesting a sensitive document but the actual email has been spoofed.
  • Invoice processing–with digital transformation in the payment landscape a number of companies are transitioning to the latest in technology that provides solutions for virtual methods of paying invoices. It is important to verify the source of the invoice, email, contact information and actual billing of services or product.

Maintaining composure and focus when something does not sound or feel right are the first steps to possibly identifying a scam–never second guess the gut feeling or sense that something is wrong. Continue to be engaged in the latest techniques scammers use, be sensitive to the type of information posted in social media platforms and share experiences so others can understand that hackers are always listening, viewing and following online movement.

Untapped potential

The world is experiencing life in leaps and bounds like never before as society grapples with the diversions upon our personal and professional lives. If we take stock of the last 12 months, there’s an unprecedented amount of change that impacted all walks of life and ages, in particular the workplace and education.

Everyone embraces change in different ways and deal with it in a positive or negative light. And our minds perceive information distinctly from others because of the way our brains process the input from the sources. This is what cultivates unique and diverse ideas and solutions to our ever evolving world to optimize our lives.

The way we respond to events that unfold upon us, will determine a successful path forward. For instance, for those who embraced the fact that it doesn’t matter where work gets done or how learning is conducted, then their journey will be steps ahead of the naysayers. Noticing that there is an opportunity to enhance or enrich our lives will surface untapped potential.

Discovery of a new beginning is not always innate when our minds are clouded with the day-to-day craziness that we create. But when we come to a halt and the actions that we would normally take each day are impacted because the external world around us shifts, then we have the time to pause and reflect. Our minds have the potential to unleash our dreams if we let the power of knowledge take shape. We are surrounded by technology and have the ability to turn passions or side hustles into a new founded gig.

The evolution of business has already pivoted from the conventional ways of propelling organizations forward. Office environments are now flexible, meetings and conferences are virtual and supply chains are transforming to adjust to the demands. This is where the untapped potential that lies within us can expand our playbook to include unconventional methods to shore up the workforce of the future. Here are some tips:

  • Take colleagues from the traditional office watercooler gathering to MS teams channels or Slack conversations.
  • And now is a good time to explore virtual platforms that have expanded tools and functions to give an ultimate user experience the feeling of participating in a ‘live‘ event–view and compare providers by filtering options in Capterra.
  • Adopt and publish a new set of best practices—check-out an example of a simple outline published by Harvard Human Resources.
  • Learn how the power of AI can fuel productivity and loss prevention.
  • Explore creative ways to optimize meeting time—this article published by Otter.ai reveals statistics that will help gauge thoughts on how to curb waste of time and add more value to the day.
  • Expand industry learning with LinkedIn.

A new beginning is within an arm’s reach for anyone who takes the leap of faith or finds that they are not performing a job they are meant to be doing… the 27 Incredible Small Business Ideas for 2021 & Beyond by HubSpot is worth the read for those who are ready to tap into their potential today!

Filter out the social media noise

Media whether paper, broadcast or digital form has been a part of our communities for centuries and people navigate to these sources for news, stories, and information. Then in the late 1900s, social media was introduced with online social networks bringing everyone the opportunity to channel their voice. There are so many options to choose from today, that everyone has forgotten about MySpace that was one of the first networks to gain popularity in the early 2000s with over 1 million users.

The growth of these online social networks has unearthed a plethora of behaviors in online engagement that produces unconventional and uncontrolled channels of misinformation that was never the intent of building social digital communities for personal and professional connections. People who are motivated by gossip and stretch the facts began to use the platforms to incite cyber bullying and intimidation. Adding to the complexity of these disruptive behaviors, the online profiles allow users to hide behind their profiles by creating imposter identities

Over the years the online social ecosystem has evolved conversational media to share pictures, videos, blogs and messages that opened the doors for businesses to reach the consumers who were quickly navigating to digital forms of media. The innovation and development of cell phones widened the ecosystem two-fold bringing millions within reach to proliferate their brand. However, it also brings lessons learned when engagement backfires if diversity and inclusion was not part of the marketing campaign analysis review. To avoid the pitfalls and understand how to create influence, define a strategy with the steps shared by Hubspot.

There’s no denying that we will encounter disruptive engagement and social engineering scams, but understanding the protocols and guidelines of the forums will help filter out the noise and mitigate the risk of damaging reputations. And it is equally important to learn if there are any social media guidelines that are published by organizations that protect their brand and hold employees accountable for their online interactions—regardless of whether posting is done on work or personal time. Hootsuite is a great resource for understanding how to navigate the ecosystem and this article outlines the difference between policy and guidelines. 

Most recently Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been under fire for their lack of monitoring and shutting down misuse of their platforms. Each of these online media giants have published rules and standards when users sign up for an account and create a profile. However, once users become engaged, social psychology dictates user performance and this article published by Social Media Today gives some insight how this takes shape.

The digital world will continue to evolve as innovative technologies are introduced and our lives are surrounded by the world wide web of applications available on our laptops, mobile devices, TVs and even kitchen appliances! Doing business, banking, learning, shopping, and interacting will surface many opportunities but the channels come with risk. It will be imperative to learn how all the cool stuff works but most importantly understand the vulnerabilities too. Here’s a few tips published in this comprehensive FCC Small Biz Cyber Planning Guide

Employ these strategies for email, texting and social networking 
  • Avoid opening unexpected text messages from unknown senders – As with email, attackers can use text messages to spread malware, phishing scams and other threats among mobile device users. The same caution should be applied to opening unsolicited text messages that users have become accustomed to with email. 
  • Don’t be lured in by spammers and phishers – To shield business networks from cyber criminals, small businesses should deploy appropriate email security solutions, including spam prevention, which protect a company’s reputation and manage risks. 
  • Click with caution – Just like on stationary PCs, social networking on mobile devices and laptops should be conducted with care and caution. Users should not open unidentified links, chat with unknown people or visit unfamiliar sites. It doesn’t take much for a user to be tricked into compromising a device and the information on it. 

In closing, continue to drop in on social media conversations but exercise additional caution and pause before posting anything that could possibly cause adverse impact. Modeling positive online behavior will not only build a positive e-footprint but will naturally filter out the noise. 

Evolution of office automation

old office

It is incredible how much the office has evolved since I decided 30+ years ago that my career focus would be of service in the business world.

As I look back, I don’t know how I survived the manual typewriter, carbon paper or the ink press! Needless to say, the advancement of technology, tools and resources has transformed my life as an executive assistant and broadened my knowledge to levels unimaginable from the day I started out as a legal assistant. To help you visualize my first gig, the office had a manual typewriter, a rotary phone, stencil pad, rolodex, calculator and a postage meter–no printer or photocopier that are now standard office essentials.

Fast forward to today, the tools and equipment provide a gateway to possibilities to get stuff done and rise above challenges. Not only do the latest discoveries in technology offer advancements in the executive assistant role, but also for the small business community and startups. It is imperative for organizations, big or small, to evolve with innovations in office automation, otherwise the ability to propel their operations forward would fall behind as noted in this article published by Inc.

For instance, the array of Microsoft office 365 products allow for a small business to get started with a website, design apps, collaborate with colleagues and improve office automation. And the executive assistant can leverage the online learning modules and resources that coincide with their products to advance in the role. This video outlines how to get started in app design and preview of the automation possibilities:

The office landscape will continue to broaden and technology will change at lightening speeds so it is important to carve out the time to learn. Researching and finding the right platforms and products to streamline everyday tasks will not only help exceed expectations in performance but also bring the business into the workforce of the future.

Finding time in 2021

Time is one of organization’s most precious resources and planning ahead is key to optimizing an executive’s schedule–building in flexibility for the unexpected helps to mitigate the unforeseen. And the article posted by BCG, ‘The Heart of CEO Effectiveness” shares great insights and best practices to ponder, especially for those who are faced with exhaustion at the end of each day.

I am going to dive into another piece of ‘finding time’ that is paramount to efficiency and productivity, in particular for those who are in charge of orchestrating heavy Microsoft outlook calendars. The Microsoft Garage team are always hard at work exploring options to enhance tools and/or discover new ones to maximize our performance. The latest tool I am excited to share is a Microsoft Office 365 product “FindTime”. Although everyone is open for help with finding time in their day, this tool is primarily a productivity boost for scheduling meetings. For all the #executiveassitants who are outlook calendar schedulers, this maybe a breakthrough in calendar management and overcoming a hurdle with coordinating external global stakeholders/meeting attendees. Sourcing for time either starts with an email or call to the executive’s administrative point of contact but if they do not have one, then the hurdle widens.

The following image is a visual of the Microsoft outlook add-in FindTime poll shared in the post “About FindTime” which also has a video that demonstrates the powerhouse behind it:

The tool will automatically schedule the meeting based on the first available time slot agreed upon but this feature can be turned off for those who prefer to send the calendar post with additional details to include the purpose of the discussion.

A ‘how to’ overview can be viewed here to learn more about the tool that helps take calendar productivity to a new level and minimize the exhaustion out of coordinating meeting times across multiple calendars.

The future of AI and Max, my virtual assistant

In 2020 I introduced Max, my virtual assistant. While Max does not exist today the discovery and evolution of AI is gaining strides in bringing Max closer to reality sooner than I anticipate.

The Microsoft Hackathon winning team in 2020 introduced a customized digital assistant–initial design focussed on leveraging the Microsoft Edge browser and teaching it to do a number of tasks. Thus viewing the browser as a ‘window to the world‘ [source: Microsoft article published September 1, 2020 by Leah Culler].

Google is also attaining traction in the AI space with Reserve with Google providing users with an option to adopt something new into their day to ease up on tactical tasks. The tool, while logged into your Google account, connects to a wide variety of online services that let you schedule, coordinate and do stuff on a regular basis–a number of tasks #executiveassistants currently manage for their executive.

As AI evolves, there will be areas that can be automated in the office but not all tasks can be replaced that require humans to perform. For instance, influence, emotional intelligence [EI] or negotiating are sought after soft skills that are weaved into the role to produce optimal impact to the organization. Executive assistants will continue to be an integral part of business operations with renewed standards of excellence as innovation and technology advances because the administrative field always adapts to the business operative. By taking charge of the change and being part of innovation will help to identify how to leverage the power of AI to broaden and enhance what an all-star #executiveassistant can do–take part of the online US based survey here.

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