Secure Your Marketing Data: 5 tips

By Dennis Egen

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This famous saying from Ben Franklin is apropos because:

  • I can see his gravesite from my office window, and
  • It feels even more relevant today in the age of cybersecurity, hacks, and data being held hostage.

Marketing and data and analytics are inextricably linked from now until eternity. And they have been for quite some time—even before the “big data” craze. But the more that marketers capture and use data to achieve an organization’s business goals, the more responsibility these marketers have to keep information secure.

Whether it is personal identification or payment information, organizations that capture data in order to facilitate transactions—or nurture and cultivate future sales—are putting their organizations’ reputations on the line every day.

A slew of big retailers have been targeted (pun intended). And while Ashley Madison may be the highest profile situation in recent years, this past March the Pennsylvania Democratic Party was hit with a ransomware attack.  All industries are susceptible. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in.

If you have customer and/or employee information, and trust is part of that relationship—which I am sure it is—security has to be top of mind when building web sites and executing digital marketing programs.

So how can you do this? Here are five tips: 

1. Recognize your role in security. And make it as a high a priority as design, and marketing, and sales functionality. The integrity of your web site—and therefore your brand—is in your hands. Take that responsibility seriously.

2. When outsourcing work or hiring marketing partners, ask questions up front about cybersecurity. Too often, security takes a back seat to aesthetics and bells and whistles. Yes, the look and feel of your site is of critical importance to your brand. And that platform has to do what you need it to do. But none of that matters when you’re under attack. The most important thing at that point is keeping employees and customers safe, and your reputation intact.

3. Bring in security expertise up front. Frequently, people think about security only when it is too late. Through no fault of their own, many PR, ad, and marketing shops may not be thinking about security. So it’s up to you. Everyone that touches your digital properties needs to be thinking about it. Why?

Fixing a problem that occurs takes 10x more energy and resources than addressing information security up front.

Which leads to my fourth and very simple tip…

4. Budget for security expertise on the front end.

5. Manage the conversation inside your organization. Help senior leaders and your team understand that with security comes quality. A secure site won’t have bugs and users won’t hit dead ends while navigating. As I like to say, pretty pictures are great, but user experience is key.

In conclusion, I want to stress something you all know: that earning trust takes time. Losing it does not. As Warren Buffet stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Perhaps it’s time to think about security differently.

Dennis Egen is president of Engine Room Technology, a security, risk management, development, and e-commerce consulting firm. Email: [email protected]. Twitter.