Marketers and Cybersecurity

Over the last few years, I have been asked to help a Nigerian prince, transfer large amounts of currency, buy the random gift card of Amazon for people in need. Don’t I sound important and popular?


Sadly not. I am not alone in this. I am sure many of you reading this have had similar encounters. These scams are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cybersecurity.Most of us might brush and even laugh them off, but that’s not always the case: many have fallen for these scams and paid the price.


Online threats are varied, creative and changing. Worst of all, hackers don’t discriminate organizations from individuals when looking for their next target.

In recent times with people working from home, these attacks have increased, and you may have heard or read the term “cyber threat” in the news. In this article, I am going to give you a quick rundown to what exactly are these threats? And as marketers, what should we be aware of?


A cyber threat is a malicious act that seeks to damage data, steal data, or disrupt digital life in general. Cyber-attacks include threats like computer viruses, data breaches, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

These threats are severe and should not be taken lightly. They can result in the loss of valuable and sensitive data and disrupt or paralyze computer networks and systems. Cyber threats are very real and in some cases can upend our daily lives.


Gartner explains, “Cybersecurity risks pervade every organization and aren’t always under IT’s direct control. Business leaders are forging ahead with their digital business initiatives, and those leaders are making technology-related risk choices every day. Increased cyber risk is real — but so are the data security solutions.”


Why should marketers care?

To date, many marketers view cybersecurity as part of the IT department, and that the tech people should handle these threats. This is far from the truth, and that perception needs to change.

As an organization’s security is tested and probed and breaches are becoming more common around the world, many fail to realize how interconnected marketing and IT are.


The reality is that as we digitize our businesses and transform our marketing plans, new tools are constantly being incorporated. These leave the organization susceptible to potential vulnerabilities. Hence, marketers need to be aware of cybersecurity threats.


If you’re still not convinced, consider the issue of the theft of customer data. In recent years, an increasing number of organizations from across different industries have reported breaches in regards to customer data.


Why should marketers care? Because it directly impacts the trust that consumers have in your brand.


As many of you know, building trust is a challenging task, and losing it overnight is painful. It is here that the leaders of a company will task the marketing department to win the trust back and rebuild failed customer relationships. It will be an uphill battle.


Digital marketing in a cyber threat world

Data is what drives a business today, especially marketing. Marketers are engaging in new technology and digital initiatives across every touchpoint of the customer journey to understand every customer better.


As cases of data breaches proliferate worldwide, it’s not surprising that consumers do not trust organizations to protect their personal information, and they expect their favorite brands to be more proactive in protecting their data.


Most marketing teams incorporate customer data and learnings into all marketing activities. This allows them to target customers with the most relevant ads, that lead to conversion and more personalized experiences.


The tools used for data analytics, customization and optimization may make a marketer’s job easy and drive efficiencies. But they could lead to potential cyber threats that have not been taken into account.


As the amount of data collected by marketing teams increases, many teams have introduced a data management platform (DMP) to manage customer data from both offline and online sources. A DMP is a vital tool when targeting the right customers online. Managing and securing the data stored in these systems is critical to the success of marketing campaigns. However, the security of these databases tens to be outside the role of an average marketing team. With an un-secure platform, the organization is at risk of a data breach.




Marketers have a role to play

In most cases, a CMO or marketing leadership is not involved in managing cyber risk. However, they are involved with the response teams in the event of a cyber breach. This is a reactive approach when organizations could be taking a proactive one.


Cybersecurity is a high priority for organizations and consumers alike, even though providing and implementing security initiatives and processes are typically controlled by CIOs, CISOs, and CTOs. This needs to change as a majority of digital tools being used tend to be by marketing teams.


CMOs must collaborate with their IT and security partners to develop a strategy that is synonymous with the business’ overall cybersecurity strategy. This more collaborative approach will increase the marketing team’s understanding of cybersecurity and risks when planning marketing initiatives.


The four stages of a data breach that every marketer should know are:

  • Reconnaissance

  • Infiltration

  • Exploitation

  • Exfiltration

Cybersecurity is a competitive differentiator. Consumers and even partners will increasingly choose to interact with a brand that seems secure and has a strong security track record.


By putting your consumers first when it comes to cybersecurity, the organization is embracing a culture that promotes overall safety and security, and this will be adopted from both the bottom-up and top-down.


Conclusion

Cybersecurity can seem scary, but it can also be a source of hope. Marketers need to be consumer advocates within their organizations around cybersecurity initiatives. Marketing is pointless if consumers don’t trust an organization’s ability to safeguard their information.


“Arguably, the most important evolution in the history of marketing is the ability to understand what data you have, what data you can get, how to organise and, ultimately, how to activate the data.” — Mark Flaharty, EVP SundaySky

Cybersecurity should be a priority for every department, from marketing to sales. Simply put, cybersecurity is everyone’s job.


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