Digital marketing is an essential tool for almost every business looking to grow. Many companies continue to increase their digital marketing investments and media buying budgets, but is there a downside to be concerned about? Every single industry can benefit from the convenience and cost savings of digital marketing. However, while it’s incredibly useful, it can also open businesses up to potentially falling victim to online criminal activity, including data theft. As well as a financial and reputational risk to your business, inadequate cybersecurity can result in breaches of the data protection act, resulting in company and personal fines. So, what are the ways you can ensure your digital marketing company isn’t breaching the Data Protection Act?
Let’s delve into a little more detail…
What is the Data Protection Act?
The Data Protection Act (also known as The Act) is designed to protect personal data for individuals. This can include financial information as well as private addresses and other details. The Act allows individuals to access their own data and sets a number of rules regarding the way that personal data is collated, stored and shared. Businesses who are found to have committed a breach of the Data Protection Act can find themselves facing a hefty fine.
In 2019, a pharmacy in London was fined £275,000 after it was found that it failed to ensure the security of special category data which, it was reported, was stored in unlocked containers on the premises. Breaches of the Data Protection Act, both in physical and digital form, can result in fines of up to 20 million Euros.
How Do Online Criminals Operate?
Data breaches can occur in a number of different ways. In 2022, cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever. Here are some ways online criminals operate:
- Email Phishing – This term refers to the act of acquiring data through devious means. One of the most common forms of phishing is through email scams. Cybercriminals will send emails which appear to come from a trusted source. These emails will often contain a link which, once activated, installs malware onto the receiver’s computer, creating an open door for the scammers to steal data.
- Bots – Bots are algorithms used to crawl the internet and look for vulnerable information. While these are used by reputable businesses for legitimate purposes, cybercriminals also use these bots to search out websites which are vulnerable or lacking in adequate security.
- Trojan Horse – Much like the Greek myth it is named for, this is a program which seems to be entirely innocent but, once installed on a device, will quickly steal files and data without the knowledge of the user.
Cybersecurity Protection Strategies and Tactics
Protecting data from cybercriminals should be a top priority for digital marketing businesses as their reputation relies on keeping client data safe. The following are a few ways in which you can upscale your security without a huge amount of hassle or expense.
- Two Factor Authentication – Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, a huge number of employees are now working from home at least part of the time. While this is proving to be a great working model in terms of improving the work/life balance, it is also responsible for a significant amount of cybercrime due to employees using their own devices. Research shows that 14% of remote employees were not supplied with a device by their employer, which leaves them open to cybercrime. Businesses can reduce the risk of hacking and data breaches by introducing a two-factor authentication system. Rather than just requiring a simple password to access a system, two factor authentication requires two separate forms of identification. For example, a password and a fingerprint. Figures show that this simple but effective security method can help to thwart up to 99.9% of attacks.
- Training Employees on Permissions – Every time we sign up with an app or online service, we agree to certain permissions and, these can be an open door for criminals. Digital marketing companies should put in place best practices for all employees when it comes to permissions on their work devices in order to improve security.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN) – A VPN is a tool which helps to keep prying eyes away from your device. These essentially hide the location and identification of your computer or device and are extremely effective at keeping your data safe and secure.
- Alter Privacy Settings on Business Social Media Accounts – Many businesses such as digital marketing companies use social media platforms such as Facebook for advertising and engaging with clients. While these platforms are a valuable tool for digital businesses, they can also be a goldmine for cybercriminals. All businesses that utilize social media should educate employees on best practices for privacy settings. Most social media platforms offer a range of privacy settings, including the option to choose who is able to see the content on your page. Making sure that you limit the number of people who are able to access information on your social media pages can really help to keep the door firmly closed to criminals.
- Use a Private Search Engine – Whenever we want access to fast information, our first response is often ‘Google it!’. Although Google is, of course, a legitimate search engine (and one which is used by 4.3 billion people worldwide), it’s by no means the only option. Google makes a huge amount of money by tracking your every move online in order to glean as much information about you as possible. Instead of using this incredibly popular engine, digital marketing companies would be much better off using a private search engine which will help to limit the risk of dodgy dealings.
- Streamlining Communication Platforms – For a digital marketing company, there are often a number of different moving parts in play when it comes to communication. Websites, emails, social media and mobile phone messaging are just some of the ways in which businesses keep clients updated while trying to attract new ones. Creating customer profiles can be effective in helping a business to understand their audience and to engage with them more efficiently. This can help to improve security as businesses are able to find out how people prefer to be contacted, thereby streamlining and reducing the number of platforms and outlets used. The fewer outlets that a business uses, the fewer opportunities there are for cybercriminals. When creating a customer profile, it can help to put together a persona to help you figure out who they are, what they do and, more importantly, what they want from a business like yours.
Cybersecurity should be at the forefront of marketing strategy for online businesses…
Cybersecurity is so much more than just putting a couple of things in place and calling it good. In 2022, cybersecurity should be an integral part of your business, which all employees are educated about. As technology advances, cybercriminals become more sophisticated, and businesses are at a greater risk than ever before. For digital marketing companies, this often means implementing an entire cyber transformation in order to keep their information safe. This involves conducting in-depth analysis of all systems and networks within the business and then creating a plan which will transform the company’s security measures from adequate to rock solid.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained cyber security or data breach professional. Be sure to consult a cyber security or data breach professional if you’re seeking advice about protecting your company data. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.
The most important data within your business might get leaked or lost tomorrow. With the rate at which such cybersecurity incidents have been growing, you can never be sure your business is safe. Follow these data security tips to minimize the risk of a breach and protect the continuity of your business. If you want to keep up with how data security and privacy is transforming the business world as we know it, follow @TopRightPartner on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe to my blog, and buy a copy of my latest book published by Harvard Business Review, Strategic Analytics.