If you think that your firm has the luxury of ignoring cybersecurity threats, you’re sadly mistaken. Firms that turn a blind eye to the risks of hacking stand to lose it all in the long-run because consumers have serious concerns over their own security.
As you can see from the image below. Some security issues are more serious than others but you need to close as many vulnerabilities as possible to ensure the security of your consumers as well as internal security for your business data.
In this short post, we take a look at the security issues your brand can’t afford to ignore. And we detail some of the methods you can use to fight back against them.
Consumer security issues
While overall internet security concerns declined over the last few years, despite the pandemic, this drop is artificial because of rising concerns over personal safety, according to Unisys. Thus, with the vaccine, experts expect security issues with consumers to rise back to previous levels.
Across multiple countries, those most concerned over online security are younger and have lower incomes. Women are also more likely to have concerns.
And, according to security experts and the government, a security breach isn’t a question of if, but a question of when. Due to the damage a breach represents to your brand image, cybersecurity became a marketing function for many businesses. Here’s something from Steve Durbin, Managing Director of Information Security Forum:
CMOs are tasked with brand management, and a brand’s reputation is likely to be the most visibly damaged asset in the aftermath of a breach. Likewise, data-driven marketing is fueled by customer trust. Preparation, protection and responsiveness are key to containing the damage and preserving that trust.
So, as the marketing manager, CMO, or other staff with direct responsibility for brand image, how do you handle these security issues, especially when you consider that most marketing staff lack sufficient training to understand cyber threats, let alone guard against them?
Well, that’s where we hope this post helps.
Lack of control
With increased efforts to digitize consumer data and use consumer devices to track consumers, consumer security concerns transfer to organizations; holding them responsible for protecting that data. For instance, look at the image below to see how few Americans feel they can control the collection of their personal information.
To meet these consumer concerns, you must up your game when it comes to avoiding security vulnerabilities. Here are some issues that create vulnerabilities and how to handle these security issues to avoid damaging your reputation and, ultimately, your brand.
Security issues that impact your brand
Phishing is a play on the word “fishing” and essentially involves trying to “hook” employees and get them to do something that allows hackers to breach your networks, especially those that uncover consumer data like credit cards, healthcare data, email address and password, or any other personally identifiable information.
Most employees are quite “click-happy,” meaning that they gladly click on files and links contained in an email or fail to uncheck boxes when visiting websites.
And those mindless clicks allow cybercriminals to get their foot in the door. Remember 2016 when a leader in Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff clicked a link in an email allowing Wikileaks to access private emails and uncover embracing information that may have sabotaged her candidacy.
Unscrupulous actors know that finding a technical workaround that bypasses your anti-virus and firewall is much harder than tricking an employer into giving your passwords.
Fighting back against phishing requires training colleagues on the common tactics hackers use and how to respond. Training should cover aspects of strong passwords (such as using unique passwords that are hard to guess) and your system should require password updates periodically to limit the damage caused when a bad actor gets access to your system.
2. Inside Jobs
No business leader wants to imagine people they hired working against their interests, but it can happen, especially with skewed incentives. For instance, a rival firm might attempt to bribe an employee to hand over trade secrets, destroying your competitive advantage.
Sometimes, it isn’t an intentional breach by employees. For instance, a few years ago an employee disposed of a computer without wiping personal data from the device. Or, an employee loses a thumb drive containing data. These security issues disclose personally identifiable data and subject your customers to risk.
The best way to fight back against this sort of thing is to operate an internal security monitoring service. The idea here is to pay professional cybersecurity experts to keep a watchful eye on your networks 24/7 and tell you when something suspicious happens so that you can investigate the issue on the ground. Again, training should focus on proper and unacceptable policies such as removing data from the workplace. Unfortunately, with workers at home during the pandemic, enforcing such policies is challenging.
Ransomware involves a bad actor locking your system until a ransom releases your data back to your control. Such attacks are especially dangerous when your data impacts customers. For instance, locking patient data may result in death if you can’t assess a patient and assure they receive appropriate care. Or imagine a city loses access to their data and can’t provide emergency services appropriately.
Businesses that find out more about the risks of ransomware attacks put themselves at a distinct advantage versus their rivals. The good news is that you can stop this type of activity quite easily by backing up data at multiple third party sites. Thus even if hackers steal your primary cache, you can quickly restore normal operations by reverting to your last version. Of course, if you frequently update data, backup is more challenging.
In many cases, older operating systems or older software versions exposed a business to actors who attempt to install ransomware. Hence, you should always update to the newest version as many contain security patches for identified security risks.
4. SQL Injections
SQL injections sound pretty unpleasant – and they are. According to data, around 65 percent of all businesses experience some kind of SQL injection attack per year, making it one of the most common tools in hackers’ arsenals.
SQL attacks sound technical – and they are – but essentially they involve inserting harmful code into databases that allow hackers access to your databases and the ability to manipulate your data.
Protecting yourself from SQL attacks relies on the active management of your databases, encryption, use chip and pin technology for credit card data collected from users, and prevent data leakage.
Readying your business for security issues is now part and parcel of modern business risk management. Failing to take cyber threats seriously could put your enterprise at serious risk, and it could ultimately undermine your operations by damaging your brand image and performance.
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