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Enhancing Cybersecurity Measures for Marketing and Advertising Agencies

  • 30 Jan 2024
  • 8 min read

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The years 2020 and 2021 disrupted the global economy at its core, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This unprecedented situation compelled many brick-and-mortar businesses to temporarily or permanently cease their operations, while others had to pivot and transition their business models to the digital realm. Consequently, this abrupt shift led to a rapid surge in competition.

In retrospect, this transformation presented an opportunity for digital marketers to excel in various domains such as SEO, email marketing, content marketing, and social media. However, every opportunity carries an inherent threat. As a digital marketer, if you believe that cybersecurity falls outside your realm of concern, assuming it's solely the responsibility of the technical team, you may be in for a surprise.

Marketing and advertising firms must address the evolving needs and expectations of new customers while adapting their processes and methodologies to meet fresh privacy mandates and technological advancements.

In a world driven by data, effectively maneuvering through these changes is essential for advertisers and marketers of all sizes, particularly since privacy breaches can result in significant consequences, ranging from damage to their reputation to substantial fines imposed by data protection regulations.

The bedrock of any online business is security. Did you know that in February 2022, a phishing attack resulted in the theft of 250 NFTs valued at US$1.7 million? Hence, it is prudent to assert that ensuring cybersecurity is a collective responsibility.

Biggest Security Challenges Facing Marketing Agencies

Technology plays an equally vital role in understanding customer psychology in the contemporary marketing landscape. Technology is an integral component, whether you are utilizing solutions for integrating applications to collect and analyze data or simply engaging with your team through online communication.

Your exposure to cyber threats increases as more of your operational processes become interconnected with the internet. Cyberattacks, such as hacks and fraudulent activities, can harm your brand, jeopardize customer data security, and adversely affect your company.

With this awareness in mind, let's delve into the specific cybersecurity challenges that marketers need to be attentive to and explore strategies for their mitigation.

Bot Activity

Bots are ubiquitous on the internet, and you are likely aware that your website constantly attracts bot traffic. Many of these bots serve legitimate purposes, such as enhancing SEO rankings. Regrettably, some bots have malicious intentions, often aiming to harvest data or fraudulently click on your pay-per-click advertisements, depleting your advertising budget without genuine customer engagement.

The presence of these bots can distort your analytics data and, in cases of ad fraud, contribute to fraudulent profits for scammers. They often infiltrate digital marketing networks, forcing partners to scrutinize their analytics to verify legitimacy.

If you notice an unusually high traffic volume, it's essential to exercise caution, as this could be a sign of bot interference. Use tools like Google Analytics filters to weed out these spurious visits and specialized solutions to counter ad fraud, safeguarding your enterprise from this cyberattack.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

While CMS systems are invaluable for marketers, they are also prime cyberattack targets. Many plugins and add-ons that enhance CMS functionality can introduce security vulnerabilities. It's crucial to stay vigilant about timely plugin updates, balancing the need for functionality with security concerns.

Additionally, marketers should implement security and event management tools to monitor their systems, enabling swift removal of suspicious tools or plugins. Unnecessary plugins or third-party services should be removed to minimize the attack surface.

Password security is paramount, even to seemingly trivial points like wifi-connected printers. Marketers must collaborate with IT teams to create a plan for responding to CMS-related cyberattacks, emphasizing proactive measures like monitoring, access restriction, and preparation for potential incidents.

Threats to Customer Data

Marketers often underestimate the volume of data generated by their company on a daily basis. Personal information accumulates rapidly when your online call centers retain data such as call recordings and transcriptions.

Any repository of customer data represents a cybersecurity risk; the more data you accumulate, the more tempting a target you become for hackers. Marketers should adopt a best practice of collecting only necessary data, retaining it for the required duration, and ensuring that it is stored securely, with regular password updates and restricted access on highly secure devices.

Email Threats

Email, a ubiquitous communication tool, remains a prime target for cyberattacks, particularly phishing. The shift to remote work has exacerbated the problem, with a cyberattack surge reported. Email security, designed initially for a more trusting internet era, has yet to evolve substantially, making it vulnerable to spoofing and phishing attempts.

Mitigating email threats requires continuous staff training to scrutinize information requests and confirm their legitimacy. Regular testing, simulating phishing emails, and targeted training for susceptible individuals can enhance security.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

CRM systems, essential for large-scale enterprise communications, represent another avenue for potential cyberattacks. Hackers target customer data repositories, with possible consequences ranging from leaks to data loss or ransom.

To mitigate CRM-related risks, elevate the cybersecurity knowledge of the entire organization, restrict software installations on work devices, and implement robust backup systems. Preventing unauthorized access and data breaches should be a priority, as safeguarding CRM data is crucial for marketing strategies.

Data Breaches

Data breaches are notorious cybersecurity threats in digital marketing, involving unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as contact details, marketing strategies, and financial data. Preventing zero-day attacks and proactive security measures are vital in safeguarding against data breaches, which can be financially devastating.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing, a prevalent form of social engineering, involves cybercriminals impersonating legitimate services to trick victims into sharing sensitive information. Businesses, including high-ranking officials, often fall victim to spear phishing attacks. Vigilance, careful examination of requests, and regular training are essential to combat phishing.

Compromised Third-Party Apps

Marketers rely on various tools and apps, some of which may pose security vulnerabilities. Regular review and updates of all software and applications are necessary to minimize risks associated with third-party tools that the company may not authorize. Vigilance is vital in maintaining cybersecurity in a constantly evolving digital landscape.

Network Snooping

As remote work becomes the norm, online communication channels are attractive targets for eavesdropping and network snooping. Encryption protects sensitive data from prying eyes, ensuring secure communication channels.

Data Protection for Marketing and Advertising Companies

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Marketing and advertising companies must prioritize safeguarding various types of data to maintain trust with customers and protect their intellectual property. Nearly all digitally stored customer data, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and account information, carries value for cybercriminals.

Customer concerns about data security are significant, with 91% indicating that they trust brands more when those brands demonstrate a commitment to data protection. A breach of sensitive data can result in losing customer trust, legal fines, lawsuits, and other severe consequences.

For marketing and advertising companies, comprehending the pivotal role of data protection in their success is paramount.

Here is how you can protect your marketing agency against cyber attacks:

Remote Data Protection

As remote work has become the new norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, work computers have left the security of company networks. Stricter policies should be enforced outside office hours or the company network, and specific settings can define working days and hours and company network parameters. This continuity is crucial for securing remote access and device management, mainly when employees work offsite. Secure remote access solutions simplify and streamline the process of accessing and controlling offsite devices, ensuring that all software and systems are accessed through secured private networks, discouraging the use of public Wi-Fi, and emphasizing secure privacy settings, VPNs, and 2-factor authentication (2FA) for added protection.

Implement Firewalls and Network Redundancies

Picture a house with imposing security gates and advanced security systems. A firewall serves a similar function for your network, acting as the guardian that shields your systems from the myriad dangers lurking on the internet. To elevate your digital marketing cybersecurity, you need this digital gate and bouncers for your online interactions. Firewalls act as a barrier that thwarts viruses and malware from infiltrating your systems. Additionally, network redundancies serve as a defense against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Ensure that all software and systems are accessed through secure private networks, including your content management system and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. When employees have apps or software on their mobile devices, it's crucial to caution them against using public Wi-Fi while utilizing these applications. Instead, encourage them to employ secure privacy settings and business VPNs to mitigate risks. Additionally, emphasize the importance of implementing two-factor authentication (2FA).

Maintain Ongoing Site Monitoring and Secure Emails

Even with top-tier software and tools at your disposal, continuous monitoring and routine site-wide checks are imperative. Vigilantly watch for any signs of suspicious activity and proactively investigate any discrepancies. It's essential to periodically scrutinize reviews, comments, and posts on your website. Address or remove blatantly false and misleading content promptly and implement measures to prevent their recurrence. Strengthen your security by implementing Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols and multi-step verification measures.

Email security is of paramount importance, as phishing attacks pose a significant threat. With over 3.4 billion spam emails sent daily, phishing can propagate various types of malware, leading to data loss and reputational risks. Consequently, addressing phishing is the most critical cybersecurity threat that your company should tackle.

Implement Strict Access Management

To bolster marketing security, limiting employee access to sensitive data is essential. Implement a stringent access management system, often referred to as Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). Determine access permissions based on each individual's organizational role, ensuring that everyone understands the requirement for authorization when making specific changes or modifications. For instance, you can specify who has access to post or modify articles on your website, with no need for passwords or admin access for the rest of your marketing team.

Regularly Update All Software and Systems

Cyberattacks often exploit vulnerabilities in security software, prompting companies to continuously patch these weak points. Consistently updating your systems and software safeguards against known marketing threats and viruses. These updates come at no cost and can also improve your ability to provide better services to your users or customers.

Prioritize Data Backup

Among the top three measures to safeguard your digital marketing operations, data backup is paramount. Since all digital businesses depend on data, losing information could result in years of work going down the drain. Those who have experienced cyberattacks understand the frustration of attempting to recover lost data, especially when it's business-critical. Regular data backups can protect against significant resource and financial losses. Ideally, you should maintain multiple secure backups, following a 3-2-1 backup plan.

Utilize Corporate VPNs

Promote the adoption of corporate VPNs among your staff, emphasizing their importance even when working remotely, particularly when connecting to less secure networks such as public Wi-Fi spots. A VPN for business directs internet traffic through your organization's private network, bolstering security through data encryption. This safeguard guarantees that any potential interceptors cannot decipher the transmitted data. Furthermore, employees can access the company's intranet, a restricted network exclusively designated for company personnel (if applicable).

Cybersecurity in Marketing: Basic Tips to Protect Your Privacy

Some may believe that all marketing-related cybersecurity threats require elaborate planning and execution, akin to complex schemes. However, many common attacks rely on sheer numbers and capitalize on minor lapses or negligence. Here are precautionary steps you can take immediately to mitigate risks:

  • Ensure that all communication channels are secured, preventing hackers from accessing your data or eavesdropping on conversations and customer interactions. Encrypt all communications end-to-end to fortify security and protect against unauthorized access.
  • Mandate the use of robust passwords, following the lead of modern sites that require users to create complex combinations of letters, numbers, and special symbols.
  • Incorporate two-factor authentication into your login or sign-up procedures, introducing an additional layer of security for your websites, channels, and apps. This is especially critical for pages where clients or users make payments or share financial data.
  • Exercise caution when encountering unfamiliar links, as clicking on them can expose you to malicious content. Despite being a well-known precaution, people still fall victim to this tactic, making it crucial to remain vigilant.
  • In the event of a data breach, promptly notify customers and provide information about the countermeasures being taken to enhance marketing security. If possible, offer suggestions on what they can do to mitigate risks on their end.
  • Educate your customers about cybersecurity by posting on social media channels and sending regular awareness emails that warn customers of cyber threats and provide guidance on safeguarding their information. For instance, advise subscribers not to share their passwords and One-Time Passwords (OTPs) with anyone, including their employees.
  • Invest in ongoing cybersecurity training for your staff, as threats are continually evolving. You can engage an expert or agency to conduct routine training programs for your team. A security-conscious marketing team serves as the first line of defense against malicious attacks.

Wrapping Up

Cybersecurity threats are continually increasing in frequency and severity, making digital marketers just as susceptible as any other sector. It's crucial to exercise caution when sourcing software downloads. Vigilance is a collective responsibility, as negligence in this regard can result in harm not only to the organization but also to its customers.

The key to safeguarding against cyberattacks lies in fortifying every potential vulnerability through the development of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Additionally, promoting awareness and education plays a pivotal role in thwarting malicious attacks. While remaining active online, prioritize your safety and security. Equip yourself with the knowledge required to fend off cyber threats effectively.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the current trends in cybersecurity threats, and why should digital marketers be concerned?

Cybersecurity threats are evolving rapidly, with an increase in both frequency and sophistication. Digital marketers should be concerned because they are not immune to these threats, and a breach can lead to severe consequences for their businesses and customers.

Why is it important for everyone to exercise caution when downloading programs or software?

Cybersecurity is a collective responsibility, and anyone in an organization can inadvertently introduce security vulnerabilities through unsafe downloads. Being mindful of the sources of programs helps protect both the enterprise and its customers.

What steps can digital marketers take to create a robust cybersecurity strategy for their businesses?

A robust cybersecurity strategy includes identifying and sealing potential vulnerabilities, regular software updates, employee training, and the implementation of security protocols. It's essential to adapt to evolving threats and continuously improve security measures.

How can awareness and education contribute to preventing cyberattacks?

Awareness and education help individuals recognize and respond to potential threats effectively. When employees are informed about cybersecurity best practices, they can play an active role in preventing malicious attacks and safeguarding the organization's digital assets.