Digital marketing is one of the fastest-growing industries today. Not only this, but it is online-focused and reliant on information systems, putting digital marketing efforts at a higher risk of cyberattack than many other industries. If you work in digital marketing, there is a considerable risk; your systems might be hacked leading to potential downtime, data breaches, or financial fraud. That’s why cybersecurity is so important in digital marketing today.
To prevent a breach in your online security, you must ensure you offer protection for your customers, partners, and employees by invested time and money to secure your digital platforms such as your website, your social platforms, your payment portals, as well as securing internal systems such as your intranet, email, and records. Cybersecurity is vital in many industries, but digital marketing, because of its direct interface with customers and access to their financial wellbeing, requires additional efforts if you wish to avoid a public relations disaster and loss of customer trust that spells disaster for your business.
Here are just a few steps you must take to protect and secure your business from those who would destroy it by gaining unauthorized access.
Protect Your Website
Protecting your website is extremely important when it comes to your digital strategy, as sites that are poorly configured are an easy target for hackers and criminals. If your website is hacked, it could lead to financial loss, damage to your reputation (called reputational risk), and may result in regulatory fines. Even a minor attack on your website may slow down responses so that legitimate customers can’t access all or part of the website. We call this denial of service attacks (DoS) and they potentially send prospective customers to a competitor—something you never want to happen.
Hackers are smart and the tools they use extensively, giving even unsophisticated people access to sensitive information on your website. Once hackers gain access, they may infect or steal data from people who visit the website, including credit card or other sensitive information, access the databases behind your website to post inappropriate content or corrupt legitimate content, bombard your website with traffic in the hope of bringing it down (DoS), or other nefarious actions. Some hackers gain access to your website by bombarding it with viable passwords in the hope of gaining entry to the backend. More sophisticated hackers know a quick visit to the dark web provides all the instruction and tools necessary to hack into almost any website. For instance, the federal government faces numerous attacks every day, and, with the pandemic giving people more time and layoffs creating financial hardship, cyberattacks are up 37%.
So, what can you do to protect your website?
Make sure your plug-ins are up to date, as well as your CMS (content management system), and update these as soon as the release of a new version. A critical component of most updates to these software products revolve around new security measures as their authors fight to keep up with the hackers. As hackers find a vulnerability, software developers rush to close the threat.
You could implement IGA, or two-factor authentication (2FA), which reduces the chance of hacking by strengthening security. Implement these tools on, but also other entry points for unscrupulous people such as email, your CRM system, and social media accounts. You should also consider getting a web application firewall (WAF), which basically puts your site behind a virtual wall that inspects traffic going to it and blocks attacks. WAF also regularly scans your website for malware or downtime and prevents denial-of-service attacks.
It is also vital that your customers know that they can trust you to handle their data and that when they are on your website, they are safe. You can do this by installing a digital certificate on your website, such as an SSL certificate, as this protects information sent and received from unauthorized access. SSL is so important for ensuring customer trust that having the certificate helps your search engine rankings.
And, don’t forget the impact of your host on cybersecurity. A weak host makes your website vulnerable to attack, so choose carefully.
What about emails?
Email systems are still a favorite tool of cyber-criminals intent on distributing malware or sending fraudulent invoices to defraud businesses. Did you know that roughly one in every 131 emails contains malware? And 67% of all malware globally is delivered by email? With this in mind, cybersecurity is so important, because a single piece of malware, called ransomware, locks away all your data behind a paywall and it may take thousands of dollars before the attackers release your data.
So, how do you protect your firm from email attacks? Your first defense is training so employees know how to recognize fraudulent emails and know not to click on links found in these emails. Next, encourage employees to choose complex passwords to avoid intrusion by hackers using tools designed to guess passwords by brute force attacks. Finally, force employees to change passwords frequently.
Often people forget that cybersecurity is so important in managing your social media accounts. Despite improvements by major social media providers, social media accounts are hacked with ease and create serious damage to your brand and reputation. Protect your social media accounts in the same way you would your website or email systems. Make sure you have secure passwords, restricted access to only those who need it and require two-factor authentication.
Protect Your IT Systems
Did you know that the average downtime from a ransomware attack is 33 business hours? Your internal IT systems are a huge target for attackers, and if they can get access to your local network, PCs, or servers, cyber-criminals can not only steal data but can also wreak havoc and severely impact business operations. Protect these vital assets with strong passwords that change frequently and install a VPN (a virtual private network) to further frustrate would-be hackers.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.