Luckily, there are many measures that you can put in place to avoid unintentional data leakage. Let’s look at how to get serious about online security in 2020.
Marketing Professionals are Especially Vulnerable
So why do hackers love to target marketing teams? The answer is simple: It is the job of marketers to accrue personal information from customers so that they can understand their wants and needs and market to them appropriately. The issue is that marketers are not always aware of their vulnerability, especially in smaller marketing firms with little to no IT presence, and hackers know that.
However, the danger does exist. For instance, marketing on Facebook has been especially daunting with recent attacks where hackers have stolen Marketplace photos and a recent data breach where Facebook IDs and passwords were stolen by attacks on third-party applications on the social media site. The most significant issue is that any data stolen from marketing firms or the channels they work through can be used against the customers. An email address can be used to gain access to personal email accounts, and stolen social media information could lead to identity fraud.
Recent studies show that the average cost of a stolen record during a data breach could be over $100. So if your marketing company is responsible for the loss of thousands of records, then you could be in big trouble — and it could even mean the end of your agency. This is why it is especially important to partner with your IT team and verify that all protections are in place. Create a culture of security now before it is too late.
Now that you know that your marketing team could be at risk, you need to be proactive, so start by getting data breach insurance. Ideal for smaller firms, this insurance can be a major help by first offering experienced professionals who can ensure that your business is secure, and then providing agents who can also swoop in with assistance if a breach does occur. Insurance can also help with the financial burden in the case that you are sued as a result of a data leak.
A stolen email address can be especially dangerous, whether it belongs to the marketer or the customer. Once obtained, hackers can use the address to send malicious phishing emails that are so sophisticated they look like they’re from top brands such as Adobe. Yet they will have a dangerous link or attachment that, when clicked, will create a doorway for hackers to come in and steal data. It is important to be proactive so that you and the customer are educated on the risks of phishing emails. Most importantly, customers should know that companies will never ask customers for personal information over email. On the other side, marketers should never open an email attachment unless it is part of the typical business practice or you are expecting the message.
Marketing firms should have a well-thought-out crisis plan in place in the case that a data breach does occur, and this information should be known by everyone at the company. The first step is to know how you will restore the customer data, which should always be stored on backup servers. After that, it comes down to informing the customers in a timely manner. To save as much of your reputation as possible, communication must be made immediately with a reassuring message and actionable steps that customers can take to ensure that their information is secure. In some cases, when a company takes immediate action and is upfront with those who are affected, customer retention is more likely.
As technology advances, so does the way that we work, and we are seeing a rise in the culture of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This new way of working has marketing professionals and those in many other industries working off of cell phones and tablets and using them outside of the office. While BYOD has actually been proven to be more productive for employees, it also brings its share of risks when it comes to cybersecurity.
One of the biggest issues with external devices is that they can be easily lost, and if that happens, the device can be sold or hacked. To prevent damage, all information should be encrypted so the data cannot be read even if accessed. On top of that, phones should have passwords or passcodes that cannot be easily guessed.
Those who decide to work from a public place like a coffee shop should be extra cautious when logging onto Wi-Fi because malicious hackers can set up fake servers that look just like the real deal, and once you are connected, your data becomes their data. It helps to have all your devices on a virtual private network so your location cannot be easily pinged. Finally, it is crucial that your device and the software on it is always updated, especially your antivirus program. New updates patch old vulnerabilities, which keep hackers guessing. Don’t give them the easy answer.
As we march into 2020, it is becoming increasingly essential for marketers to understand the threats of cybercrime and take the proper precautions to protect their business and the information of their customers. Make the right moves now, so you are not caught off guard in the new year.
About the Author:
Frankie Wallace is a recent graduate from the University of Montana. Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho.