Last month in this column, I wrote about how businesses need to "lock up the front door" to their systems to prevent phishing attacks and take a multi-tiered approach to rethinking the identity of their employees, partners, and customers.\n\nAnd while we have been banging this drum for quite some time, a new villain has reared its head. In recent weeks, we\u2019ve seen glaring examples of the harm that bad actors have caused to a company\u2019s financial viability and product reputation due to confusion caused by the new ownership and policies at Twitter.\n\nSocial media security has just risen to be a top priority for not only CISOs, but CMOs, CFOs, and CEOs. As a result, we can expect it to play a more prominent role in malware attacks, security breaches, and identity verification hoaxes.\n\nTwitter verification troubles\n\nYou might have read about the \u201cverified\u201d Twitter account of pharma company Eli Lilly and Co. that shared a tweet that announced, \u201cWe are excited to announce insulin is free now.\u201d\n\nWow! Did the real Eli Lilly & Company announce that on Twitter? Well, no. In fact, the account that tweeted turned out to be an imposter account. But Twitter followers, investors, media, and others were immediately fooled. They thought the pharma company was bowing to user demands to bring insulin prices down.\n\nWhen the real Eli Lilly & Co. learned of the fake tweet, it responded on its official account: \u201cWe apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad.\u201d\n\nFooled by improper systems in place\n\nWhy did the tweet fool so many people? According to The Washington Post, the tweet carried a blue \u201cverified\u201d checkmark. This mark ensured that a brand\u2019s Twitter account was legit, per the Twitter verification system that had been in place for years.\n\nBut as a result of the change in Twitter\u2019s ownership to Elon Musk in recent weeks, the old verification system had been dropped and replaced by a new verification system called Twitter Blue. For an $8\/month fee, users could gain the verified mark as Musk tried to drum up new revenue sources.\n\nBut real identity verification wasn\u2019t high on the priority list. Twitter was not checking the identity of who paid $8\/month for the new checkmark. This meant anyone could buy a "verified" checkmark.\n\nThis is how the Eli Lilly Twitter brand and others became attacked. Scammers created \u201cfake verified\u201d accounts for politicians, sports athletes, celebrities, and other companies by paying the $8\/month checkmark fee. Unfortunately, the flawed identity verification system was already causing big problems, wrote Wired in its piece \u201cElon Musk\u2019s Twitter Is a Scammer\u2019s Paradise.\u201d\n\nAs a result of the temporary confusion, Eli Lilly\u2019s stock price was impacted, dropping from $368\/share to about $348\/share (though it has since rebounded). But the fake tweet also brought attention to the company\u2019s high price of insulin, creating a more significant PR problem for Eli Lilly.\n\nBlack hat Twitter actors\/pranksters had found a wide-open door for identity fraud and have begun to misuse the verified mark plan for nefarious purposes. This Twitter \u201cattack\u201d on identity has brought the severity of phishing and identity verification to the mainstream.\n\nThose of us in the security and intelligence industry have been talking about bad actor phishing for years, but now it\u2019s become a much larger problem. Will companies take stronger measures to establish higher identity verification security, especially in social media?\n\nStrengthening identity on social media\n\nMore of these attacks could be coming. With the uncertainty swirling around Twitter and its directions for users, bad actors might sense an easy play to inflict similar harm to another major brand. And false messages on product pricing is only the tip of the iceberg. Other fraudulent messages or scams could create a call to action, where customers or even employees are duped into sharing their credentials, which would provide access to the front door of the organization.\n\nNow that we have seen how easily brands can be attacked, it seems inevitable that more of these exploits will become the norm. What will happen in the coming weeks to other major entities if this Twitter Blue verification plan is not tightly organized? And going beyond Twitter Blue, fakes can be perpetrated on other social media sites and by setting up phony websites with the same look and feel as the original owned by the brand. How will these be leveraged? The Twitter Blue issue made spoofs simple for any basic attacker to pull off, but any hacker with a higher level of sophistication can leverage more elaborate methods. How can brands and companies best defend all of these channels? \n\nWhile the Twitter team is said to be retooling to make it \u2018rock solid,\u2019 with plans to relaunch Twitter Blue at the end of November, CISOs need to put in safeguards to prevent fraud before attackers can hurt your brand, move your stock price and maybe even find a path to steal your organization\u2019s data.\n\nThese safeguards should extend across social media platforms and the web. This is not just a Twitter issue, despite the media attention. Twitter has made the headlines, but it is a much broader problem for the industry.