Digital marketing is central to any successful business precisely because it reaches the greatest number of people; unfortunately, that also makes it a ripe target for hackers. To combat this menace, a cyber security strategy is now a crucial element to any marketing that takes place in the digital sphere.
This should come as no surprise; in a world where a few changed words can totally ruin SEO efforts, even basic security breaches can negatively impact sales. In the worst case scenario, a data breach can be financially devastating for all but a few already wealthy companies.
It all started with cloud storage.
Storing Data Online
Because of the constraints on local storage faced by so many businesses, much of a company’s data is now stored on offsite servers that make up what we call the “cloud.” Few successful companies keep large servers in their office, opting to instead utilize remote locations.
So what does this have to do with marketing efforts? Digital marketing efforts are linked because they utilize company resources that, in many cases, share access. The same devices used to market company products also frequent company servers and cloud storage sites.
Not protecting these devices while marketing is like running a powder keg straight back home. A single slip can mean a devastating explosion from which the company may end up paying thousands of dollars (or more) to recover.
A study by the Ponemon Institute in 2016 demonstrated just how crippling data breaches are today, with a single record costing as much as $158, with some companies losing hundreds or even thousands of records at a time. The costs can quickly become staggering.
When much of a company’s data was stored offline, this wasn’t an issue. Yet those days are long gone; the high data demands a company faces basically require that information be stored offsite.
Bring Your Own Device
Another major player in the relationship between cyber security and marketing is the increase in the number of non-corporate devices being used within each business. Many businesses even implement a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) policy just because their employees may have access to better equipment than the company is financially able or willing to provide.
Unfortunately, this comes with certain risks; non-standard devices have apps and programs installed that can come with their own sets of risks. Third party apps are especially dangerous, as they can be used to install malware or hijack information.
Additionally, employees on limited data plans or that experience poor reception frequently make use of public WiFi connections without the use of encryption software. This puts them at risk for hacks perpetrated by “sniffer” programs that search for unsafe connections on open networks.
Companies aware of this phenomenon are apt to supply or recommend that their employees install and utilize a service called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs are used to connect devices to remote, encrypted servers so that the user’s device is protected from various exploits. Secure Thoughts has a helpful write-up on VPNs for those that want to know more, particularly if your device of choice is an iPhone.
The newest entry in digital marketing is the social media platform. Now utilized by virtually all businesses with an online presence, social media offers a way to interact with customers one-on-one while maintaining public visibility.
Yet social media is also rife with security problems. Besides unwanted spam posts, social media is frequented by cyber criminals utilizing phishing hyperlinks to trick customers and employees into handing over vital account information.
Teaching employees and advertisers how to avoid and prevent these scams are crucial to effective marketing. A page loaded with unsafe links demonstrates not only that the affected company isn’t tech savvy, but that they have little regard for their customers. This issue can also lead to the earlier discussed data breaches.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the bottom line, not including cybersecurity in marketing efforts is just too risky and too costly to avoid. Any business worth its market share weighs the pros and cons of spending money on company efforts, and the majority judge cybersecurity worth the investment.
What about you? Is your marketing effort vested in safe online practices? Tell us how you’re avoiding the pitfalls of digital marketing cybersecurity problems.
About the Author: Cassie is a cyber security expert and technology blogger. As a frequent user of social media and marketing platforms, she observes numerous security mistakes daily and does her best to share solutions with both businesses and private users.
Contact Cassie Phillips