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Basic Cyber Security Precautions for Marketers

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by Devin Morrissey
March 16, 2018


Devin Morrissey
Devin Morrissey has written 4 articles for PromotionWorld.
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Marketing is a field that requires constant open communication. From traditional marketing to the more recent digital aspects of the same, marketers need to very often publicly display information on various websites and social media platforms. Between posting information and sensitive email correspondence with clients, marketers become easy targets for hackers or cyber criminals.

Cyber attacks can cost millions, and even though 87 percent of businesses are confident in their cybersecurity preparedness, 71 percent faced a cyber breach in the last year. The last thing any marketer would want is for company information — or worse, client’s information — to be stolen or their business to be jeopardized. Thankfully, there are certain steps you can take to keep your business secure. Here’s some basic cybersecurity precaution for marketers:

Manage Your Digital Footprint: It’s important to minimize your digital footprint. For this, you first need to familiarize yourself with what it currently looks like. Googling your company and information related to important personnel is an easy way to gauge its current footprint. If you come across inactive profiles, outdated information or inappropriate photos or posts, flag them so you know what you need to get rid of. Will Pelgrin, president and CEO of the Center for Internet Security, advises people to, “Be selective about which venues you participate in. If you regularly contribute to blogs or message boards, consider how others might interpret your statements.” This is especially important in marketing campaigns, where anything you say can easily be manipulated and then lead to a major scam.

Check Your Privacy Settings: Anyone with a basic knowledge of social media knows accounts on one of these platforms means you’re essentially relying on a third party to protect your personal data. It’s vital for marketers to be fully aware and on board with the social media platform’s privacy policies before parting with any information. Marketing involves multiple social media accounts that are fully accessible to the public. While this is necessary to reach target audiences, it is integral to make sure privacy settings are set up in such a way that they offer protection from theft. Pelgrin warns people that some sites, “may share information, such as email addresses or user preferences, with other parties. If a site’ privacy policy is vague or does not properly protect your information, do not use the site.”

Use Encryption: Encryption is an important tool to have in your skillset to protect your information from hackers should they intercept it. Think about this analogy: you’re leaving your house for a vacation. Would you leave your front door unlocked? No, obviously, you would lock the door to make sure no one could enter and steal your belongings. Encryption is basically the equivalent of the lock, requiring a special key to open it. For marketers, encryption plays a huge role when it comes to exchanging ideas over email, or sending private files that need to be protected. There are many free online basic encryption courses, as well as plenty of how-to articles that show what type of encryption to use in a particular data setting.

 

Cover All Your Bases: A well-protected security operation comprises of many components. Familiarize yourself with these to deter hackers, cyber thieves and to protect your brand:

 

  1. Keep your system current: Recent waves of ransomware attacks have been underscored by systems using old outdated software. For example, J. Carlton Collins, CPA, says in the Journal of Accountancy that, “one of the most frequent mistakes he sees accounting firms make is running outdated or weak security software.” As a marketer, you must make sure you’re keeping your operating system, apps and antivirus software current to take advantage of new security updates. To update your security of a PC running Windows, go into “settings” under “update & security,” and under “Windows update,” select “check for updates.” On a Mac, open the App Store, click “updates” in the toolbar, click the update buttons to download and install any available updates. It’s fairly straightforward to set up automatic updates on both PCs and Macs, as an added backup measure.

  2. Follow encryption protocols: As mentioned above, encryption will allow only those who have a key to access data. This is especially useful when it comes to fulfilling client deliverables and protecting data while it is in transmission.
     

  3. Backup your data: Data backup is essential to stability and security. Any data that isn’t backed up risks being lost to theft or hacking. According to Quickbooks, a best practice is to “run regularly scheduled backups, saving at least three copies of your data in at least two different media formats, such as a hard copy and a cloud copy, with at least one backup stored in a location off site, such as a vault or a remote cloud server.”

  4. Use security engineering: From the very start, it makes sense to build your internet presence with security in mind. Rather than implementing later, this will help protect your brand as it progresses.

  5. Set up firewalls: Installing firewalls is necessary for blocking unwanted access to your network. Relying on a firewall that has been only partially setup can leave your system extremely vulnerable. Research how to properly set up a firewall depending on which system you use (Mac or PC). Additionally, honeypots act as decoys to lure hackers towards systems that don’t hold any vital information.

Consider Hiring An Expert: As businesses expand and security needs get more complex, you might find that you need to implement more advanced measures to keep your business secure. In some cases, your knowledge or your in-house specialist may not be enough to deal with potential cybersecurity risks. In these situations it’s prudent to consider hiring outside help. Investing in a good cybersecurity software or consulting with a network security professional can go a long way. If you don’t have the financial means to do so, consider getting a small business loan. Even though you may not want to part with your money, remember that cyber attacks can cost up to billions and severely damage the reputation of any business. With this in mind, know that a small initial investment might save you lots in the long run.

As a marketer, it’s integral to keep these security precautions in mind. While safeguarding your business from cyber attacks may have always been low on your priority list, continuous digitization and the advent of digital marketing techniques make it an issue of increased importance. Be sure to incorporate these security tips into your business processes so as to avoid any potentially detrimental cyber threats.

         


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