Cybersecurity and digital marketing are not topics that you would normally associate with one another. After all, most of us worry about the messages coming in, not the messages that we send out. This could prove to be a deadly mistake for your business to make and in this post, we’ll explain why.
We’ll go on to explain best practices in terms of security awareness training so that your staff is also aware of the potential dangers. And, just in case you think that cybersecurity is not such a big issue here, we’ll refer you to the Everycloud infographic.
There’s a scary amount of cybercrime out there, and if you’re not careful, you might also expose the clients on your marketing list to it. So, sure, making sure that you have laid out your marketing strategy step by step, including social media, email, and content marketing campaigns is extremely important. It’s even more important, though, to make sure that your security strategy is just as well planned.
Why is it So Important?
If you have a list of email subscribers and very little other information, you might be wondering what the big deal is. After all, even if someone hacks your system, all they’re going to get is a bunch of email accounts, right?
Except that’s seldom how it works in reality. If you accidentally open a virus sent through by email, one of the first things that it is going to do is to replicate itself and try to infect as many other computers as possible. Most well-designed viruses will send emails to all of your contacts, from your own email address.
Even if they don’t do that, they could infect file on your computer. Which means that you’ll be passing on the virus for them. You get the idea. At best, the computer at the other end catches and quarantines the virus, at worst, it wreaks havoc.
Eventually, though, the virus is bound to be traced back to your system and this can seriously damage your company’s reputation.
It’s Not Just the Client’s Information at Risk
Think about all the other information that you have on your system. Your employee details like their full names, social security numbers, and so on are also all there for the taking.
Your business’s information is also at risk. If someone gets hold of your company’s federal tax ID, for example, they could wreak havoc with your tax return. They might redirect any refunds due to you. Or, if they’re just out to be malicious, they might claim illegal deductions.
In either instance, you’ll have a tough time proving to the government that you were not responsible. And, if the refund is redirected, getting the funds back, if at all possible, would be a lengthy process.
The Bottom Line
You have a duty to protect the data that your client has entrusted to you. Even if they’ve only ever given you an email address and first name, you owe it to them to protect their information.
But there could be more to it than that. We’re starting to move into an era where “I didn’t know” is no longer a valid excuse. Data privacy laws are becoming a lot stricter, and if you are responsible for your client’s personal data being exposed, you can face serious fines and lawsuits.
While we haven’t seen this happening as yet, the logical next step would be for clients to hold companies civilly responsible for infecting them, no matter how unwittingly, to viruses. So, needless to say, this is something to take seriously.
What Can You Do?
You probably have a Content Management System in place, and, as WordPress is one of the most popular options, it’s probably WordPress. Unfortunately, most hackers are old pros at hacking WordPress-based sites, so you need to ensure that your security on these sites is up to date.
This applies to any content management systems across the board. Be sure to integrate a good security plug-in and update it regularly.
Then, naturally, you need to ensure that you use a very strong password – i.e. at least 16 characters long, and a mixture of alpha, numeric and special characters. Also, use upper and lower case letters.
Finally, when you need to access the CMS, don’t use a public network to do so.
Another trick that hackers love is to hack your email account. They then send out spam, viruses, etc. to as many people as possible. This is problematic in your personal capacity, but even worse when it comes to your business email.
It might get your site blacklisted as a spammy site, but it can also seriously damage your business’s reputation. So, in addition to running a scan on your computer, do consider getting software that can monitor your incoming and outbound emails and check for issues.
Make Your Site Secure
There is still a lot of distrust out there when it comes to shopping online. You must ensure, at the very least, that you install SSL protocols on your site. That way, any sensitive information is completely encrypted before being installed.
You also need to ensure that all the information stored on your computers is properly encrypted. That way, even if it is intercepted, the hacker cannot read it.
It’s good practice to collect only as much customer information as you need and to be sure to delete it if you no longer need it.
Security Awareness Training
Believe it or not, it’s not usually the security software that lets you down when it comes to data breaches. Many breaches can be attributed to human error. Which means that your security system is actually only as good as your weakest staff member.
If they choose a bad password, download personal files online, or share copies, a hacker might find a way to take advantage of that. It’s important to conduct regular training sessions when it comes to online security.
The last thing that your company needs is for one careless mistake to expose your clients to hackers. The fallout can be enormous and potentially devastating for a company. So, before you send out that next marketing email, do make sure that your house is in order.