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Embarrassing hack has movie studio turning fifty shades of red

A hack doesn't always target your personal secrets or your bank account. If you're a celebrity, sometimes a rumor does enough damage on its own.

Ever since the naughty bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey" arrived on the scene, the public has been wondering about the inevitable film adaptation. A recent announcement that former Harry Potter star Emma Watson would be the film's heroine must have come as a shock to many…including Watson herself. Because she hasn't actually been cast.

The news comes courtesy not of an official press release but a data security breach into German studio Constantin films that resulted in the leaking of documents, among them one confirming Watson's involvement. But the studio has denied that this is true, claiming that the compromised information is outdated.

Watson herself took to Twitter to address the incident, saying "Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life." At least she's still got her social media reputation intact.  

These days, a studio has to be as concerned about its data security as its casting choices. It's just a good thing they figured this out before the wrong movie got made.    

John Sileo is a cyber security expert and keynote speaker on privacy, identity and reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.  

Jeep jacked and Burger King busted as company Twitter feeds get hacked

So far, 2013 has been the Year of the Hack, as the past few weeks have proven positively lousy with big-name security breaches. 

Social networks, news outlets, and now…jeeps and fast food? That’s right, recent events have seen two prominent businesses get their Twitter accounts hacked, and worse. Not only did identity pirates shanghai the feeds (and therefore the reputations) of Burger King and Jeep, they used this illegal access to send embarrassing and scandalous messages to their followers.

Last Monday, @BurgerKing began tweeting that it had been sold to McDonalds, changing its image to a golden arches logo and posting ridiculous, wildly provocative comments about rappers and mad cow disease. The same thing happened to Jeep the next day, when its account claimed it had been sold to Cadillac and that its CEO had been fired for doing drugs.

The incidents had huge and bizarre repercussions. Many users tweeted quips about how hackers “had it their way” with the fast food giant. Actually, if the plan was to send people away from the burger chain, it backfired: Burger King now has 30,000 new followers and tons of media attention. In fact, soon after MTV and BET actually pretended to have been hacked, apparently just for the publicity.

Burger King’s well-managed response is a fantastic example of a corporate character trait I call repetitional jujitsu – using negative digital events to your competitive advantage. If you think that BK’s response was accidental, or casual, think again.

Despite the silver lining for the company, this is an alarming series of events. It may seem funny now, but will you be laughing when strangers start using your digital reputation for a prank?  

In response to this, Twitter is determined to make its system more secure by implementing use of the email authentication system DMARC, which will hopefully limit hackers from using false emails to gain private information. While this will help, only time will tell how much difference it actually makes.

It may seem trifling, but your digital reputation is vital to how you’re perceived in the offline world. Proper social media risk management is the key to combating such attacks, and its best to take it to heart before someone makes you the next big online joke.

John Sileo is a social media reputation expert and keynote speaker on online identity and risk management. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business. 

Study: People remember your Facebook status updates more than books

Get this. A new study says that your Facebook status updates are more memorable to people today than carefully crafted lines from a book. If that’s not proof that social media exposure has real impact and an insanely long shelf-life, I don’t know what is.

A team of psychologists from the University of California published their research in the academic journal “Memory and Cognition.” They collected hundreds of Facebook posts from undergraduate research assistants and the same number of random phrases from recently published books sold on Amazon.

They made sure that the specific context was taken out so that the status updates and book excerpts stood completely on their own. Study participants were asked to memorize them. As it turns out, those Facebook statuses we throw up all willy-nilly stick with a person 1.5 times more than the words written by published authors.

The conclusion reached in the study was that because social media status updates are more “unfiltered” and represent “effortless chatter,” they are seen more like everyday conversations and thus are easier to remember. The study was repeated with news headlines. This time, people remembered the comments social media users made about the headlines more than the headlines themselves.

When an author writes a book, it goes through countless revisions and is looked over meticulously by editors. When we post something online, the only filter we have is the one between our brains and mouths – or keyboards – in that split second before we hit “Send.” So, not only are we more at risk of regretting what we type, but it’s also likely to be remembered for a long time and have implications for our social media reputation.

The next time employees post a personal status update or they post an official update on behalf of your business, don’t you want to know what’s being put out there is actually in your best interests? Talking to an online reputation consultant is a good first step toward avoiding embarrassing and potentially damaging situations.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.