As the world continues to evolve and technology advances, we see an increase in the number of cyberthreats that jeopardize our personal lives and businesses. Hackers can use just about any piece of information to cause harm to your company or your customers. Because of the number of people that many companies work with daily on a global scale, proper security is a must.
This is especially important for business marketers. In this line of work, you are responsible for compiling an endless stream of data to help find the perfect advertising strategy for every customer. If that data is leaked, you could face serious consequences. Let’s look at some of the common threats and their solutions.
The Importance of Cybersecurity
The necessity of proper data security cannot be understated. Just about any piece of personal information can be used by bad folks to inflict harm on an individual. An email address can be used to send phishing emails to others. A social security number could allow a hacker to take out a fraudulent loan that could put an unsuspecting victim in financial ruin.
While hackers are happy to cause disruptions to large corporations, they are more fond of going after small businesses because they know that they may not have the resources or staff required to implement the proper protections. Just one cyberattack could put your company out of business. According to recent estimates, a successful breach could cost your business over $200 for every stolen record. If you are a small marketing firm, this burden could be too much to handle.
It is not only about the dollar signs. Customers and clients trust that the companies they do business with will have their best interests in mind, and if that trust is broken, your business could be out of money in more ways than one. While system issues can occur from time to time, most cyber breaches are at the cost of employees who either make an error or forget about best practices. Proper training is the first step to building a security wall around your small business.
Know the Threats
An important first step is company-wide awareness of common hacker threats and scams and how to avoid them. In most cases, a hacker is attempting to either steal your information or upload a virus or malware that will destroy your system. One form of malware is ransomware, which involves the hacker taking control of your computer and demanding money before the system will be released. Such dangerous tools can cripple your business, and even if you do pay the money, there may still be a loss of data.
As a marketing professional, you send out thousands of emails, but you should also be aware of dangerous incoming communications you receive, often in the form of phishing scams. These are messages that often look like they are from a source of authority, like the IRS or your bank, and they will have a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, will release malware onto your system. Watch out for the red flags on phishing emails which include messages with misspelt words, an unexpected level of urgency, or a link or attachment that you were not anticipating.
Marketing can be a mobile profession. If you are ever working in public and connect via Wi-Fi, then you must be aware of Man-in-the-Middle attacks. When you go into a business and connect to a server, hackers can create a fake Wi-Fi connection that looks just like the real deal, but when you connect, you are feeding all of your information to the criminal. To avoid such a scam, be sure to talk to the management at the establishment to verify that you are using the correct Wi-Fi. You should also invest in a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will disguise your position so hackers are unable to connect to your system.
Common Sense Security Solutions
The other side of effective cybersecurity is having the proper protections in place that make it difficult for hackers to gain access. Start with proper passwords. Management should enforce complex passwords with a series of letters, numbers, and special characters, and these passwords should be updated every month. To make passwords even more secure, add multi-factor authentication, which requires an additional unique code sent to a phone that must be entered first.
Next, apply numerous levels of protections that hackers must get through to get into your system. Start with a strong firewall and antivirus software that is updated regularly. The newest versions of this software will protect against more recent hacker tricks. Then, you will want to encrypt all of your data, so, even if it is stolen, it cannot be read by the cyber thief.
Most of all, encourage a culture of security around the workplace. Have all data backed up on a separate server, make sure that everyone locks their computers when they walk away and remind employees to keep a close eye on portable devices so they are not stolen.
In the end, if you enforce the importance of necessary cybersecurity and practice it with every interaction, you will have a trustworthy marketing department and customers for life.
Sam Bowman, often called a “business guru” by his peers, is a professional writer and health enthusiast. Fascinated by the latest technological trends, he brings people up to speed by crafting bite-size explanations. In his spare time, he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
Also published on Medium.