Are you one of the millions of Americans affected by the massive Equifax data breach?

Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., last week announced a massive cybersecurity incident that potentially revealed the personal identity information of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Personal data and assets at risk included names, addresses, dates of birth, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, addresses – quite a jackpot for an identity thief.

So at this point, you might be thinking to yourself: “Why is a transformational marketing firm like TopRight writing about cybersecurity and data breaches?”

Well, in a world where our customer’s and our employee’s financial and personal data can be easily compromised and used for everything from bank card fraud to extortion, protecting your confidential information and marketing assets is imperative for every firm.

Information is one of the most valuable assets of an organization – whether intellectual property, personal data, or sensitive business information, most organizations have something that is valuable to someone else. Hence, every organization is a potential target. – Holly Rollo, CMO of RSA

From Equifax to Sony to the giant retail chain Target, cybersecurity risks have become a big threat to brand reputations and it must be a strategic priority not only for individuals but also for brands and their marketing leaders.

Nothing is more important to a company than its brand and marketing assets, which is why you must protect them from the very first day of launching a business. Unfortunately, many business leaders make the mistake of failing to protect their most valuable assets, only to realize their mistake once it is too late. To help you protect your assets, here are some tips and actions you must take to ensure your brand and marketing assets are secure.

5 Important Steps to Safeguard Business and Marketing Assets

1. Protect Your Data

The most valuable asset to your business is, of course, your data. This includes everything from a business plan, trade secrets, industry research, and personal information regarding your company, your channel partners, your customer data, and your employee data.

Many businesses have therefore chosen to move and secure that data in the cloud to enjoy centralized control, simpler data governance and heightened security firewalls to prevent breaches. As an added enticement, when you buy Office 365, sensitive information like emails, contracts, and collaboration tools can be accessed any practically any secure device, anywhere in the world (provided you have an internet connection!).

2. Apply for Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents

We are living in an era of fast-paced idea generation and transformational innovation. New ideas and new products hit the market every day, every minute practically! Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people out there who focus their energy not on innovation, but rather on misappropriation – trying to make money from someone else’s idea or invention. And, given that all businesses today compete in a global market, this problem is only going to expand in the years to come.

Your intellectual property will set you apart from your competitors. In order to protect and defend your intellectual property (IP) successfully, you must properly identify your Intellectual Property, execute Non-Disclosure Agreements With Third Parties and diligently Guard Against Infringements. Read our full article on 3 Proven Ways Marketers Protect Intellectual Property.

3. Introduce Internal Security Processes

If you haven’t done so already, it is time to introduce internal security processes and confidentiality agreements to protect your data and trade secrets successfully. Both will determine your success in the industry, so you must keep the information as secure as possible.

It is not only employees who will need to sign an agreement and follow your security measures, but you must also ensure any suppliers or contractors also follow the same rules you expect from your staff. In addition to confidentiality agreements and internal policies, we also recommend implementing password protections, data encryptions, and effective security systems that will keep your data secure 24 hours per day.

There is a predominant “check the box” mentality where organizations work to demonstrate compliance without understanding whether they have really addressed the underlying security challenges facing their business. – Colossal Equifax Data Breach Is Ominous Warning for Corporations

4. Insure Your Business Assets

While you might not like to think about it, losing your business assets could cost you a considerable amount of money. Don’t underestimate the importance of insurance, which will ensure you are financially protected if your physical or digital assets are compromised. You will sleep peacefully at night knowing you will have a financial backup should the worst happen.

As every business is unique, it is your responsibility as a business owner to identify if every company asset is protected. If you are unsure where to start, we recommend consulting an experienced business solicitor to identify how to keep your assets safe.

A business solicitor will understand the best legal protections to secure your assets. It is also advisable to work alongside one solicitor or firm only to prevent an asset protection plan from becoming convoluted. This will ensure you receive a comprehensive approach to business asset protection.

For Equifax, their business asset happens to be millions of people’s personally identifiable data. Not enacting the property security protocols and failing to make a routine software update lead to the massive breach. However, this is no longer an IT problem for the credit reporting organization. The breach touches the entire company – finance, customer service, marketing, operations, and especially the CEO.

Protecting your data and marketing assets is vital to building your brand and safeguarding your investment. If you’re committed to transforming your business through marketing, you must get all 3S’s right: the right Story, the right Strategy, and the right Systems. It’s key to have the right processes and technology in place to avoid security issues, protect your brand and arm your business to succeed.

Learn more about how TopRight’s 3S Approach (Story, Strategy, and Systems) can help you transform your marketing to drive measurable results in our eBook: Transformational Marketing – Moving to the TopRight.