It’s as sure a bet as any. Another day, another cybersecurity breach. At any given time, chances are a company has just realised they’re the latest in a long line to have fallen victim to the very technologies that make their work possible.
Phishing scams. Malware. Viruses. DDOS attacks. These terms are no longer just Silicone Valley catch phrases for tech bros and digital startups (Hint: They never were in the first place!). Nowadays, companies of all shapes and sizes need to sit up and start taking cybersecurity seriously.
Digital advertising and marketing agencies are at particular risk. Why? Give it some thought. What other industry holds the kind of trade secrets, unannounced projects, and access to client accounts across a range of services like a marketing firm?
This isn’t just a financial concern. Or a technical one, either. With a little preparation and planning, you can protect your business and capitalise on a marketing opportunity in the making. Let’s take a look at just how this works...
1. Your Brand’s Reputation Precedes You
Marketers are likely more aware than most that purchasing decisions these days are made in the court of public opinion. Word of mouth, user reviews, and online chatter are crucial. Increasingly so, in fact!
In this digital era, good news can be difficult to get off the ground. But a negative headline? Those spread like wildfire. That’s just the way it works. Everyone loves a good controversy, and what bigger controversy could befall your business than a cybersecurity breach?
Your business may recover its lost files in due time, but what about your brand’s reputation? Removing bad press can be a difficult if near impossible task. It’s so tough, in fact, that there are entire industries dedicated to removing it from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
At the end of the day?
Good news is temporary; bad news is forever.
If securing your sensitive files isn’t enough of an incentive, let protecting your brand’s reputation drive you to start taking cybersecurity seriously. Examine current internal policies, invest in industry-standard security measures, and enact common sense procedures to keep things secure.
2. Are We Safe To Talk? Is The Line Secure?
Few sectors keep in touch as much as advertising and marketing. Emails. Texts. Slack. No wonder it’s so difficult to leave work at, well, work. From staff bouncing ideas back and forth to catching up with clients for changes to content and copy, this is less an information superhighway as it is one of those 26 lane freeways backed up as far as the eye can see...
Communication isn’t the issue, so much as how it’s carried out. Not all channels are created equal or, for that matter, securely. Take email as an example: one of the most ubiquitous methods of communicating is also one of the most insecure.
If the history of email breaches is anything to go by, this is far from hyperbole. It’s reality. When a client signs up with your advertising agency, they aren’t just expecting you to keep their information secret, they’re relying on you keeping it safe.
According to Stellar Library, a Board Software firm at the forefront of governance and compliance, “...the adoption of digital channels has been slow, forcing companies to embrace insecure, stop-gap solutions while processes and IT departments have struggled to keep up with the pace of change.” Get ahead of the pack by avoiding insecure channels, not clicking on those suspicious links, and using alternative methods to keep in touch.
3. Opening New Files Is Second Nature
Whether it’s a .docx, .PSD, or .MP4 file, your firm works with a broad range of files on the daily. In fact, they’re likely sent, received, downloaded, and opened without batting an eyelid. It’s simple! Only...this complacency also means you’re more likely to fall victim to common file and phishing scams.
“Do those even still exist?!” you might ask.
Unfortunately, they do. Flashier threats may hog the headlines, but the common virus is yet to be eradicated. Basic tools, techniques, and procedures are actually growing increasingly sophisticated. A well-produced fake email opened on a slow Friday afternoon, or an urgent email from a compromised client account is all it takes to compromise your files.
Besides common sense procedures around the opening of attachments, look to revolutionise the way these are stored, saved, and shared with newer software solutions like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Document Management Software.
4. The Keys To The Kingdom Are In Your Hands
Hackers gaining access to user accounts is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s also one of the quickest, easiest ways to steal sensitive personal information. Can you guess who might be a prime target for these kinds of attacks, given the number of user accounts they deal with on a daily basis?
Those that answered “My marketing firm” are correct. These days, you aren’t just dealing with logos and marketing materials. More often than not, you’re setting up if not also running a range of client accounts including Wordpress websites, social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. The list goes on.
Complete control ensures consistency across your clients’ marketing campaigns, but it also means you’re holding onto more than your fair share of usernames and passwords. So ensure you’re changing passwords regularly, using Two-Factor-Authentication, and making the most of apps and software that make it easy to generate and manage login information, securely.
5. High Turnover Is A Recipe For Disaster
Sometimes your firm’s biggest cybersecurity vulnerability is the one that just walked out the door. This is particularly true of the creative sector including advertising and marketing, which boasts a relatively high turnover rate of some 30%.
Your staff are living, breathing cybersecurity threats. This may sound harsh, but according to the 2018 Cost of Data Breach, 25% of data breaches were caused by human error. It’s easy to see why: the most robust security policies, procedures, and systems can’t account for files being misplaced or malicious attacks from disgruntled former employees.
If you’re not already keeping up to date with who has access to what, you should be. Dropbox? Google Drive? Hubspot? What about your client’s accounts? Review user access and controls, and craft an internal procedure that effectively deals with the security implications of staff new and old.
6. Personal Devices Are Convenient, But Far From Secure
It isn’t surprising to see staff working till the early hours of the morning. In fact, it’s highly likely that a few members of your firm both take sensitive files out of the office, and bring personal laptops, phones, or tablets into it. Is it convenient? Yes. Productive? Perhaps. Is it a security issue? Definitely.
Taking a personal electronic device into an otherwise secure workplace is the equivalent of bringing someone with a cold into a hospital ward. Just as taking files out of the office limits oversight and opens you up to a litany of vulnerabilities that internal security just can’t protect your from.
Insecure WiFi connections at the cafe? Malware or viruses on personal computers, laptops, or devices? They’re just a few of the threats. Sensitive files sitting on personal laptops, USB drives or external HDDs out of the office could also easily be opened, deleted, or lost.
The most effective remedies include robust policies around the use of personal devices, including approval processes, as well as - wherever possible - prohibiting the taking home of sensitive files or information.
7. In This Tech Savvy Society? It’s A Selling Point
Cybersecurity isn’t just common sense, it’s also a sales opportunity if you’re savvy enough. Countless businesses are now placing proper importance on the security of their sensitive files, data, and information. Not just internally, but outside of the office, too, in who they work with.
Businesses nowadays aren’t just looking to do business with a firm that offers the best results or the cheapest prices. Security is also a deciding factor. From simple re-designs to grand marketing reveals, companies want to know that they can trust their sensitive information with a firm without the risk of leaks or security breaches. So while your firm’s security is an internal issue, it can be a big boon for your business if you know how to spin it.
It’s A Matter Of When, Not If
The reasons to take cybersecurity are countless. Even more so than those listed above. But for many businesses, it just takes one: suffering from an attack. You don’t need to be another statistic. With a little care, preparation, and planning, you can ensure your marketing firm puts its best foot forward when that day comes.