Securing your online presence: A guide to cybersecurity for digital marketers

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Securing your online presence

Every time we talk about cybercrime, we always talk about ‘prime targets’. Small businesses are a prime target. People on social media are a prime target.

But if you were to put either of these categories inside a scope, what exactly would the target be? Successful cyber-attacks are often laser-focused, and pin-pointed to cause the most possible damage, so how exactly do they narrow their sights?

Most of the time, they will look for industries where data is the most valuable commodity. Like digital marketing.

The plight of the digital marketer

If you were to strip away the technical language from a digital marketing agency, what you’d be left with is a company that attains and sells personal user data. In order to generate leads, increase conversions, gain insights, and personalise user experiences, data is the most important tool for success, and this is something that cybercriminals know all too well.

One of the biggest data breaches in history took place in 2019 when the service known as ‘Verifications IO’ – used by marketing and advertising companies around the world – had around 763 million records compromised.

Some of the information stolen included names, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, social profiles, credit classification, and more. Because of the lack of hyper-sensitive information, it isn’t the most well-known data breach, but it’s a huge warning sign for digital marketing companies who value their customers and reputation.

If you have consumer data stored within your platform without appropriate cybersecurity, then you are a sitting duck as far as cyber attackers are concerned.

Securing your reputation

Digital marketing is an industry that has achieved huge growth over the last ten years. With data seen as king in the 21st century, the global digital market has now risen to a total of $322 billion, and it is projected to double that figure in the next 4 years.

To survive in this market, therefore, a competitive edge is important. As data collection has become a necessary process for businesses, so too has the concept of data privacy for consumers. Across the world, more and more users now remove personal information from the internet, opting out of data brokers and people search sites to delete their digital footprint and claim back control of their own privacy.

Data breaches, in this case, can be usually significant in the current cultural context. Not only will it dissolve the confidence that customers have in you, but it will lead to a huge loss of revenue for the company – damaged further by the subsequent PR campaign to build back some of that trust. In 2024, many companies will not be able to afford the repercussions of a cyberattack, and yet there’s suspected to be a 10% increase in cyber breaches from 2023. To avoid a catastrophe, you need to be prepared.

A guide to cybersecurity

The biggest ‘in’ that a cybercriminal will have is through your website. This is why it should be your primary objective when beginning your cybersecurity campaign.

The first thing you will need to do is apply multi-factor authentication, collaborating with cybersecurity professionals who can incorporate either IGA or 2FA to provide multiple layers of protection to the site itself – and subsequently reducing the likelihood of successful breach attempts.

A web application firewall – or WAF – is also a necessity. With WAF, you can consistently scrutinise the legitimacy of web traffic, deterring malware, ransomware and DoS attacks that might try to sneak through the cracks.

Your multi-cloud network should also be protected. This might sound a little counter-intuitive, as one of the main attributes of using multi-cloud is minimising the risk of cyberattacks, but actually, multi-cloud environments can be less safe due to their complex nature and complicated operations.

As a digital marketer with a lot of data spread over multiple systems, you need to ensure that you have maximum observability across your network, with a cybersecurity team on hand to regularly maintain and monitor multiple clouds, working to recognise alien threats as and when they arrive.

Transparency is key

With these practices in place, the emphasis is then on you to be transparent with your customers and tell the world what you are doing to ensure their data is safe. This is important for two reasons.

One, you are putting yourself ahead of the competition by using data privacy as a marketing tool. Two, you are protecting your reputation in the long run, proving how your website, your social media, and your internal processes are as safeguarded as possible.

With AI now being utilised by cybercriminals to evolve their techniques – and the human error still a prime cause for successful phishing attacks – no one company can say that they will never be breached. What you can say, however, is that you’ve done everything in your power to fight against a breach and fight for efficient data privacy.

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