Technology is becoming more advanced. Thus, digital marketing is becoming more important to the operations of companies. Wrongdoers are now more aware of the value of companies’ virtual assets. The threat of cyberattacks has increased.

Digital marketing teams everywhere should be preventative when it comes to security. Below are seven reasons why digital marketers should be cyber-vigilant. What are the best ways to prevent costly and time-consuming cybersecurity mistakes?

Bots can affect your marketing strategy

It is not unusual for Google bots, or your own as part of a strategy, to visit your website. This could be for purposes such as software regression testing. Yet, spoof bots are malicious and can attack websites with various motives. They usually aim to collect data. The presence of these bots can skew analytics data and lead to making decisions on shaky ground. No good for a killer marketing strategy.

Google Analytics can do some of the work for you, as they have trained software to detect bots. But, they often miss things, and the human eye can often spot hits from bots with greater precision rather than, say, a bot mobile app.

If traffic appears to be impossible, it likely is impossible. Features such as a quick succession of visits from the same IP can allude to bot interference. Exclude these hits using the filtering function in Google Analytics.

Customer information is both powerful and dangerous

It is easy, as a marketer, to lose sight of the amount of data required for day-to-day operations. Some may consider the data superfluous, but its value to the company is very high. Customer-associated data is very precious. For example, information stored in your order management system to track visitor movements.

As shown in the graph below, the number of data breaches has been trending upwards over the years. Data is now more valuable than gold, and hackers are discovering more and more ways to get them.

Protecting customer data involves being mindful of the amount of information held. Marketing is usually a data-led game. It may feel natural to preserve as much information as possible. Yet, reducing the amount of data held is actually a far safer option.

Aside from this, it is important to carry out security checks. Old software is a risk factor. Once vulnerabilities become clear, software providers create new patches to remove them. Keeping up to date may be expensive, but marketers must stay secure. Not that many employees in the team need access to the customer database. Otherwise, there’s a risk that customers who leave may seek to profit from data access in the future.

Your copy could be plagiarized

Content shared online is at risk thanks to competitors and content sellers. Not ideal if you’ve spent time and money on copy and images. Being aware of these plagiarism attempts is crucial.

This is a particular risk when using Software as a Service (SaaS) marketing. It requires more content creation than other marketing strategies.

Customers pay an ongoing subscription fee for a software-based service. The marketing behind SaaS is likely to focus on building the trust of potential clients. It may involve a lot of informative content to attract them. Increasing the amount of public content available may seem like a good thing in this case. But, it can make companies a bigger target for content scrapers.

Sharing content with colleagues for editing and re-writes puts your strategy at risk. Insecure methods of communication, such as chat software, create opportunities for attackers.

Using an online plagiarism checker can help you find out if you have been a victim of content theft. After this, contacting the offender to remove the copy is the next step. If this is not successful, contact their web hosting service with the information.

There’s a risk of brand damage

A security-compromising attack is likely to have significant effects on consumer perception. For example, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks use software to shut down the website. Potential clients may become uncertain about the company’s competence. The number of DDoS attacks is predicted to increase to 15.4 million by 2023.

Also, social media hackers are motivated by the thrilling humor of destroying brands. These often vengeful jokers can quickly relay aggressive or obscene messaging, which does not fit the company’s brand.

They may also have other motives, such as promoting their own services or spreading fake news. This can damage the image of the company, causing potential customers to rethink their relationship with the brand.

A recent example of this is when Facebook’s own social media account was hacked in 2020.

This example shows that anybody can be the victim of brand damage in this way. Even the 33rd largest company in the world.

Personal data are precious

With the rise of remote working, many employees are turning to boundary-crossing practices. These include using a personal phone for work. Although not bad in itself, it does create an environment in which there are more opportunities for hackers. They could get their hands on company and personal data.

Hackers may be attracted by the company’s offerings. Most companies, especially large ones, hold data for a lot of marketing processes such as QA testing methods. These may include credit card details and company strategy information. This makes personal devices a bigger target for data predators.

If your device is hacked via a vulnerability, then not only will the company’s information be stolen, but your personal details will be too. Addresses and phone numbers can lead to unwanted spam. Card and identity details can result in fraud.

On an individual level, protecting yourself is the smartest thing you can do. Think twice before using your personal cell phone or laptop for work. It is best to consider a hosted phone system or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) for your business.

Financial data are even more precious

Financial information is desirable for online criminals. Customers who buy products and services online use their card details, names, and addresses. They entrust their sensitive information to the website and company. The release of these details can be devastating. Unfortunately, breaches involving financial information must be reported to the relevant authority. They are then made public.

An example of this is the case of Equifax, a credit reporting company. In 2017, around 200,000 credit card records were stolen from them by website hackers. The breach was hence reported. As confidence in the company fell, the share price plummeted.

Many companies use white hat hackers to attempt to break into their websites for security testing. Besides, they can also use automated software testing, which has similar effects.

Before investing, it is best to review the software testing methodologies currently available.

CMSs are not as safe as you think!

Content management systems (CMSs) are constantly under threat from hackers.

WordPress is the most popular CMS, with a 64.9% market share as of June 2021. It has many SEO (search engine optimization) functionalities available. These can be used alone or as part of a strategic operation. An example is enterprise SEO (on a side note, companies should always take care to choose the best enterprise SEO for their needs).

Yet, WordPress is also the CMS that is the most susceptible to attacks. Old versions of the WordPress software are full of vulnerabilities.

Joomla and Drupal have also had their fair share of security scares. As recently as 2018, Joomla had an SQL error that allowed hackers to edit websites. A patch was then provided. Drupal provided a critical patch for an XSS bug and four patches for other security flaws in 2020.

This goes to show that keeping software up to date is not a luxury. Rather, it is a financial safety blanket to prevent damage to the reputation of the company.

There are ways to reduce the risk

The best way to reduce cybersecurity threats is to educate staff about the potential risks. This may involve either training or an informal check-in, such as a standing meeting and other remote team management techniques. Creating protocols for staff is critical to the safety of the company. The need to embed process is more critical than ever. This may include the routine removal of unimportant data or updating software as soon as it is available.

This awareness over a wide range of people prevents one person from having a slip-up. This is often all it takes for a security risk to be destructive to a company’s operations.

There will always be a risk associated with digital marketing. This is due to its implicit nature as a data-driven pursuit. Yet, as outlined above, there are many efficient ways to reduce this risk, and make security breaches and poor marketing decisions less likely.