Data security is a universal concern at this point, including in the marketing world. The number of cybersecurity risks that businesses assume continues to grow every day as everyone and everything moves online.
If you oversee or are part of a marketing agency, it’s important to understand the data security threats that you face and what you can do to address them before they turn into a larger issue.
Why Data Security Matters in Marketing
It’s tempting to write off data security as a concern for others. Banks, tech firms, and other entities that work with high-profile data always need to be on their guard against hackers.
But there are several reasons marketers shouldn’t excuse themselves from the cybersecurity conversation either.
The first of these is the simple fact that cybercrime is a universal concern. According to data reported by the cybersecurity brand Norton, there are 2,200 cyberattacks daily. The anti-virus and anti-malware company adds that, as far as businesses are concerned, 88% of all organizations face spear phishing attempts every year.
Along with the larger concern, marketers — and especially marketing agencies — must consider the data that they have in-house. Along with employee data, firms may store sensitive information about their clients that they want to keep safe, such as payment, company logins, or other credentials.
Marketing agencies have also not been immune to the growing shift toward remote work in the post-pandemic world. As more agencies move to remote-first operations, they open up the doors to a variety of data security threats.
The takeaway isn’t for marketing leaders to fret or lose sleep over what could be. Instead, they should take proactive steps to protect their agencies’ data in the increasingly likely event that a cyberattack does take place at some point along the way.
Steps to Address Data Security in Your Marketing Agency
Here are five simple-yet-effective ways marketing leaders can improve data security in their firms.
1. Reinforce passwords.
One of the quickest ways to improve data security is by improving passwords. Despite the threat of cybercrime, too many individuals are lax with their passwords, either keeping them simple or reusing them across multiple accounts — or both.
Set up minimum qualifications for your employees’ passwords to ensure they remain a strong and effective safeguard for your agency’s data. Google recommends a few things to make a strong password.
- A password should be unique.
- A password shouldn’t use common words or personal information.
- A password should be both long and memorable for you.
When your marketing team creates strong passwords, your agency’s data is always more secure.
2. Use multi-factor authentication.
In addition to strong passwords, set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. IdP (identity provider) Okta explains that MFA is simply combining your usernames and passwords with additional levels of security.
For low-concern areas, like logging into your company’s workflow platform, this additional security could be tethering login activity to a piece of hardware like an employee’s phone or even their geographic location. If a situation is more serious, MFA could include biometric data like fingerprints or an iris scan.
Either way, multi-factor authentication is a powerful way to exponentially increase the safety of your employees as they log in and out of work applications.
3. Secure your Wi-Fi.
This is another simple yet easy-to-overlook step. If you have an on-site office for your agency, make sure your Wi-Fi is secure.
Cox Blue has several recommendations to secure a business’s Wi-Fi. Some of these are simple, such as keeping your router in a physically secure location where no one can tamper with it. Others include updating your network name and password, setting up private and public access points, and keeping everything up to date (more on that last one further down).
4. Vet your third-party providers.
As a marketing agency, you’re familiar with the role that a third-party provider can play. You’re also likely aware of how much can go wrong behind the scenes when you’re working with a contracted agency or individual.
With that in mind, don’t introduce data security threats to your agency by working with sketchy or questionable partners. Consequently, always take the time to vet any contractors, freelancers, or other outside entities to make sure you can trust them with your content, logins, or any other data-related information they might interact with.
5. Teach digital hygiene.
As a final recommendation, remember to teach your marketing staff to use digital hygiene at all times. This includes:
- avoiding public Wi-Fi for important or data-sensitive activity;
- making time to install updates and security patches right away;
- using antivirus software and firewalls on home networks; and
- setting up MFA when it’s available.
With the modern, remote workforce operating independently and in different locations, personal digital hygiene isn’t just a good idea. It’s a necessity.
Marketing agencies may not be on the front lines of the ongoing cybersecurity battle. Nevertheless, they are very much so in the line of fire and should take the appropriate steps to safeguard their data against the potential of a cyber attack. After all, it’s always better to proactively take steps to protect data than to have to clean up the mess after a hack has already taken place.