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What Marketing Professionals Need to Know About Today's Cybersecurity Climate

Date published: September 18, 2020
Last updated: September 18, 2020

In the world of marketing, data is king. Data has always been important to advertisers. They use the data they receive to determine how they are going to target distinct groups of people. A lot of the data used by marketers in times past was the equivalent of guesswork.

Now that everything is digital, marketing has evolved. Now, marketers can clearly understand the data they have, they know what data they have access to, and they have strategies for organizing their data and procedures for activating their data.

Marketing teams that are performing at the highest levels have learned to leverage customer data in a way that gives them a full picture of who their customers are. By creating focused campaigns, marketers can produce phenomenal results.

Customers are happy to get personalized experiences when they shop online. However, there have been several data breaches in recent years and scandals where organizations that were trusted with personal data used it in a less than ethical way.

There have been several accounts of businesses and state actors illegally gathering data from people. As a result, customers are looking for ways to maintain a personalized experience while getting more control over who has access to their data.

Keeping in mind that on average only 5% of companies’ folders are properly protected (according to Varonis report), individuals must take some extra steps to protect their own data, since not all of the companies are implementing required cybersecurity measures as well as following basic data security protocols.

Cybersecurity solutions like VPN services with a strict no-logging policy, which create a secure tunnel and encrypt data, have become more and more popular ‘because they’re able to protect customers’ privacy and sensitive data without costing a fortune. But not all VPN services offer the same level of protection. Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada tested over 20 Canadian VPNs and found that not all VPN providers guarantee no-logging policy.

No-logging policy defines what kind of details your VPN provider collects about you and your online activity. VPNs with strict no-logging policies collect only your payment information and email address, which means that all of your online activities are private and protected. With the cybercrime growing stronger each day, online security must never be taken lightly.

The Marketer's Responsibility to Manage and Safeguard Customer Data

It is common for marketing teams to use data management platforms. They use these platforms when they collect and manage the data of their customers. The data can be gathered from online or off-line systems.

Data management platforms allow marketing teams to analyze data, create profiles, and target online customers. In the current cybersecurity climate where customers are worried that their data is going to be used improperly, any hint of data security vulnerability can damage a marketing firm’s reputation. That’s why it is imperative that they securely manage their databases.

If an organization does not secure their database, they will become the victim of a data breach. Many companies have opted to use autonomous databases. These automatically encrypt all the data stored and perform security updates with the goal of protecting the data. Since this work is done automatically, people need not spend time and effort securing data. Marketing teams can keep their customer's data secure while focusing on marketing to their customers.

Marketers Should Care about Cybersecurity

Not too long ago, cybersecurity was viewed by marketers to be primarily an IEP issue. Even as data breaches continued to grow, companies didn’t grasp how interconnected their IT and their marketing departments were.

For example, if a large swath of customer data gets stolen, it’s going to be the marketing department’s job to rebrand their company with the goal of rebuilding relationships that are undermined by the data breach. And the increased use of marketing tools increases the number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities the organization has. Therefore, it is imperative that marketing professionals familiarize themselves with the basic principles of cybersecurity.

As technology makes different departments in a business interconnected, no department, including marketing, can consider itself to be an island. If they compromise a single device, the damage can affect every device connected to the network.

Weakness in a tool that is deployed by a marketing department can create a cascading series of negative events that can affect every department and every employee in an organization. This could spread and affect customers and suppliers.

The potential damage that could be caused by breaches to devices used by marketers has a greater impact because of the Internet of things. Now, there are more potentially vulnerable points that hackers can use.

Key Facets of Cybersecurity Marketers Should Know

1. Exploitation

Hackers are interested in finding the most vulnerable and valuable data. They are looking for the weakest administrative passwords that will grant them full access to the data they want - creating strong passwords is a must.

2. Reconnaissance

Hackers are savvy. They have no problem taking time to research the organization they are going to target. They may target marketing employees who have little familiarity with cybersecurity.

3. Exfiltration

Hackers are not picky. They are data hungry. They want information about employees, financial information, personal information, proprietary product formulas, and intellectual property.

4. Infiltration

This is where employee training is important. Hackers can gain access primarily when users download malware or when a user clicks on a link in a phishing message. Employees need to know the signs of questionable downloads and questionable emails if they are going to protect their organization.

Why Marketing Departments Are Cybersecurity Targets

It boils down to what marketing departments do. Marketing departments are visible on social media. Hackers use social engineering to get marketers and those that work with them to open a fake email, download a fake application, or engage in some other dangerous activity that allows hackers to infect a victim's device with malware.

Marketing departments are especially vulnerable to phishing campaigns because it’s their job to respond to what appears to be a business leader. If hackers can make their emails look legitimate and if the marketers are not sufficiently educated, they are going to be introducing cybersecurity dangers into the organizations they work for.

Marketing professionals should work to strengthen cybersecurity efforts. They need to exercise extreme caution in the following scenarios.

  •  Be cautious when working with vendors or software programs that require exchanging confidential and delicate information with people outside of the organization.
  • The marketing department should collaborate with the IT department when installing new marketing tools. It is especially important for those who are responsible for cybersecurity to be included in the process to make sure that the company’s private information remains secure.
  • Caution should be used when acquiring or merging with other organizations. This can create unique vulnerabilities, especially for the marketing department.

People are more aware of and concerned about cybersecurity now than in any other time in modern history. Marketing and advertising teams must consistently reevaluate their approach to cybersecurity. They need to work with the IT department. Security programs should be a part of everything that digital marketers do.

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