Digital marketing has introduced a whole new world of advertising opportunities for businesses of all sizes. However, the way it works has opened much more room for a particular kind of threat that can seriously damage your brand. Namely, every channel you use to improve your online presence is vulnerable to cyber-attacks – your email, your social media and your website, just to name the most important ones.
How serious is this risk?
Normally, there will be multiple people that have access to your social media accounts or possess admin credentials for your website. The risk your business is facing here is at least twofold. You can both lose access to the most important of your digital channels, and at the same time you can also get your customers’ data in risk of being compromised or stolen. Both these things can be disastrous for the image of your company.
Of course, such undesired events can affect more than your image, as they have the potential to financially ruin your business. A data breach costs companies around the world $3.86 million on average, with this number going up to almost $8 million in the case of U.S. companies. Hence planning and executing your digital strategy in a way that’s as safe as possible for your business is of huge importance. Here’s a quick overview of the few most common ways a careless approach to this problem can put your company into danger, as well as a few pieces of advice on how to prevent a catastrophe of this sort.
Having a sound content marketing strategy is crucial for your long term digital marketing efforts. You can (and should) employ multiple channels for this purpose, but your website should be the backbone of your content strategy. Of course, people who are supposed to manage your website will use some sort of CMS. If they don’t follow strict safety procedures, this can result in unauthorized access to your CMS and it’s needless to say that the consequences can be disastrous.
These consequences range from all kinds of malware to slowing your website down significantly. When it comes to protecting your website, enforcing a rigorous password policy can solve more problems than you maybe think. This goes for other sorts of cyber-threats as well – namely, more than 80 percent of data breaches happen simply because of a weak password.
This interview that Edward Snowden gave to the comedian John Oliver may have a funny tone, but Snowden’s message is very serious and useful. The whole “pass-phrase” theory can make your system much safer if properly implemented. Regularly updating the passwords is also considered a must and should be introduced as a rule for everyone in your company with access to any sensitive info.
And when it comes to passwords, there’s one more simple trick you can make use of – multi-factor authentication (MFA). It can drastically help your cybersecurity efforts, and that’s why as of 2016, as much as 93% of organizations used it in some capacity. And that’s no surprise really, since studies suggest that a large number of breaches could have been avoided this way.
Another key tool you need to execute a quality digital strategy is decent CRM software. It can help you get to know your customers better, learn what gets them going and easily analyze the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It also allows you to automate a lot of otherwise time-consuming processes. In general, CRM tools can significantly help you with carrying out your strategy.
The trouble with them is that one of their purposes is to collect customer data. Also, a possible cyber-threat would put some important and sensitive business data in danger as well. Here it’s vital to know that 60 percent of all breaches are in one way or another an inside job. And this doesn’t come down to just bad passwords, but all sorts of intentional or inadvertent malpractices. So what’s the best way to protect confidential data leaking as a result of your employees’ actions?
There are several things you need to do. Training and educating your workers is definitely one of them, as well as limiting the admin access to only the most reliable and knowledgeable of your employees. Giving this access to anyone without previously doing a detailed background check is obviously out of the question. Even utilizing an employee monitoring software is not a bad idea. Finally, avoid a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, as it increases the risks substantially. One lost device or even a careless download made by an employee can cost your business too much, so don’t take your chances.
Every social network you use is a possible target of a cyber-attack and more-less every piece of advice already mentioned can be applied in the context of social media as well. Nevertheless, there’s an additional bit of risk with social media, as your own business’ payment data is in danger of being compromised.
Hence an extra bit of attention is necessary here. You don’t want neither your social accounts nor payment data used for boosting your posts getting into the wrong hands. Make your social media managers stick to the safety procedures and make sure they’re aware of the seriousness of possible threats at all times.
Emails are still an important part of digital strategies for most brands. Top digital agencies are well-aware of its effectiveness, as the ROI of email marketing stands at around $40 per $1 invested. On the other hand, email marketing is more prone to cybersecurity issues than other modes of digital marketing. As Lynn Koreman from Cybervista claims: “Phishing scams are rife right now, and it’s imperative for marketers to ensure that their outreach cannot be cloaked, duplicated or misrepresented. Email communications must appear trustworthy to customers, allowing them to feel secure when clicking to learn more.”
Compromised email access may have very bad consequences for your digital efforts, as it can lead to blocking your IP address by multiple servers or your emails simply ending up in spam folders. Make sure you follow all the mentioned practices regarding online safety carefully in order to avoid this.
Backups and recovery process
However, if some of the worst-case scenarios eventually happen, losing content and data created for or obtained from your marketing channels can badly hurt your marketing efforts as well as your business. That’s why it’s crucial to have regular and reliable backups. Which sort of backups you’ll use depends on the needs of your company. The simplest solutions are affordable and easy to handle, as cloud technology is getting cheaper and easier to use.
Nevertheless, in case you need a more serious approach to processing, storing and recovering the data, asking help from risk management agencies is the way to go. When the worst happens, it’s essential to react quickly and efficiently, so that your business can swiftly continue where it stopped.
The need for an integrated approach
All in all, it’s clear that at this point in time, digital strategy can’t be separated from cybersecurity efforts. To avoid their campaigns ending as a complete disaster, digital marketers have to have in mind the possible online dangers at all times. Thus CMOs and CISOs of any business should be working together, as well as the departments they run. Digital marketing has changed the world of advertising for good in many ways, but it has made businesses more susceptible to all kinds of cyber-risks. These risks have to be properly addressed both by marketers and IT experts if there’s to be any chance of preventing them.