Privacy / Security

Overcoming cyber security threats in digital marketing

Cyber Security Threats in Digital Marketing

Cyberattacks can be expensive. In fact, cybersecurity experts predict that cybercrimes will cost a staggering $6 trillion in damages. And these threats don’t differentiate between small businesses and big corporations. Everyone is vulnerable to being a victim of a cyber attack. 

Studies have shown that some small businesses that were hit by an attack are unable to recover from it. That is how destructive cybercrime is. And it is only going to increase in the future. 

You might think that cybersecurity is not your responsibility and that your IT team should be the one taking care of it. But as a digital marketer, you are no less responsible for protecting the privacy and data of your brand or company. 

The fact that you are trying to reach a broad audience using marketing techniques makes you a rich target for hackers. Imagine sharing a seemingly harmless link on your social media page and having people click on it.  But if that link is hosting malware, all the users who have clicked that link will be infected. And the damage will be much more devastating when the attack is done using a trusted online source. 

Importance of Cybersecurity in Digital Marketing

Developing a good digital marketing strategy is crucial for your business growth. However, you also have to consider the security of the entire marketing campaign — from your website to emails to social media. Neglecting this aspect can cause privacy risks for both you and your customers.

Here are some typical forms of cyberattacks that involves digital marketing: 

  • Malware infection from files downloaded or links clicked
  • Browser hijacking and redirection
  • Stealing of data and other sensitive information
  • Identity theft
  • Proliferation of fake news 
  • DDoS attacks on website
  • WordPress malware

Aside from these threats, there are still plenty of other forms of cyberattacks that most digital marketers are not familiar with. 

Having a cybersecurity strategy only brings benefits to your brand. Aside from having a robust defense against malware is just one of the obvious advantages.  It also protects your website and all the data that your customers have entrusted you with. It also offers protection against cross-site scripting, SQL injection attacks, Denial-of-Service attacks, and password cracking. 

Having said this, you’ll understand that cybersecurity is not just your IT department’s responsibility. If a breach happened in your company’s sensitive data or your servers were attacked, claiming ignorance is not going to resolve things. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. 

The good news is that protecting your company against cybercrimes is not an impossible task. Let us look at some of the most common aspects of digital marketing where cybersecurity might be an issue, and how you can protect your business against them. 

Tips to Protect Your Digital Marketing From Cyber Attacks

Since digital marketing not only deals with your company’s data but your customers’ information as well, marketers have to be very cautious when it comes to implementing campaigns. Here are the common areas that need special attention in terms of online security. 

1. Email

Email marketing might seem old school, but it is still one of the most effective ways to promote a business. It has one of the highest ROIs in digital marketing, and it can help increase website traffic and conversion rate.  

Unfortunately,emails are also known to be the favorite delivery method of malware. More than 90% of attacks come from emails. Hackers often take advantage of emails to find their next target using phishing tactics. 

They usually send out emails that look authentic, but actually contains links to bogus websites or has malicious attachments. Hackers imitate the emails from legitimate institutions, such as banks, Paypal, Amazon, Netflix, government agencies, or organization — all in a bid to get information from you. And the type of attack that follows depends on the information you’ve given out. 

You digital marketing team is vulnerable to these kinds of attack because they are the ones who usually interact with customers (or hackers disguised as customers). 

To protect your emails, train every member of the team on how to spot a phishing email. Having a strong password and using the spam filter of your email service provider also help keep these threats at bay. 

2. WordPress

It might seem strange to see WordPress on this list. But if you follow cybersecurity news, you’ll understand that WordPress is one of the most heavily-targeted CMS platforms. Hackers often target the platform’s vulnerabilities to initiate the attack. Other cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities of the popular plug-ins used with WordPress.

Aside from outdated software, hackers can also use other gateways to infiltrate your site or disrupt it in other ways, including:

  • DDoS Attack — This attack floods your website with an insane amount of traffic to break your server and website. 
  • Cross-site Scripting — This happens when a hacker inserts a malicious code into your website to steal the data that enters your server.
  • SQL attacks — The hacker tries to gain access to your website’s database.
  • Password Attack  — Using weak passwords, such as your personal information, recycled passwords, or simple characters, makes it easier for hackers to access your data. 

The best way to protect your WordPress account against online threats is to keep it updated at all times. When you enable automatic updates, you get security patches on time that would address known vulnerabilities. Don’t forget to check the plugins and extensions you use if they are still updated. 

Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication if possible. You can also install a Web Application Firewall behind your website to block malicious content and protect your website too. Encrypt your website as well with SSL by acquiring a digital certificate.

3. Social Media

Billions of people are on social media right now, making it one of the most effective digital marketing avenues right now. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp are teeming with users from all age brackets. But with great opportunity comes great danger. 

Hackers love to target social media accounts — not just of popular people but even ordinary users as well. Hijacking their accounts allow them to cause more damage. Aside from stealing your personal information, attackers can also steal your login credentials to hijack accounts and  post offensive materials on your profile. Some will demand payment for the harassment to stop, while others are usually paid by the competitors to do that dirty deed. 

The danger increases with marketing teams because you usually have multiple members accessing the same social media account. To control the spread of your login details, you can either use a social media management tool to handle all your social media tasks or use a password manager to protect your authentication credentials.

Furthermore, educating your marketing team about the dangers of unsolicited social media messages, especially those containing links. Just as hackers use emails to trick you into sharing sensitive information, they can also use Facebook and other social media platforms to attack your system. 

4. CRM Software

CRM software is an integral part of digital marketing because this is where you usually store the data collected from your customers. Aside from storing data, CRM software is also used to analyse the collected data and use it to draft a marketing strategy for your business. 

Imagine what would happen if hackers gain access to your CRM software. They will have access to those sensitive data and use it for criminal activities. Not only will you lose money from this breach, you might also lose your brand’s reputation. 

Protecting your CRM software with a strong password is not enough. It won’t be effective as you might think so you need to take a different approach. Why? Because most breaches come from the inside. 

To protect the data in your CrM software, limit the access to only trusted employees. Make sure that those who have access are trustworthy. Screen your staff before assigning them the responsibility of managing your customers’ data. It would be ideal if yo have a tracking tool you can use to monitor logins to your account. Finally, do not allow any Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy. Employees should only use the devices assigned by the company. 

Summary

The fundamental point here is that cybersecurity cannot be ignored by digital marketers just because it is not included in their job description. Everyone has to be responsible for it — from the management to the staff. A cyberattack does not only put your data at risk, all customers and businesses who work with you will be compromised as well. 

Creating a solid cybersecurity strategy should be included in every marketing strategy. The areas above should get special attention because those are the gateways often used by attackers. By addressing these concerns, you can finally promote your brand without having to worry about your online security.

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