As a marketing specialist, your job is to spread the word about your client’s product or service in the most favourable of lights.
That in and of itself isn’t always easy; your client’s service may not be the best available, and there may be competing products that are equal to, better or even cheaper than what you need to market. Much of marketing then is selling the idea.
Knowing that, what could be worse for your marketing efforts than losing client data, having critical accounts stolen or losing your computer? It’s the worst-case scenario and something most of us hope to never experience. So how bad does it really get?
The Cost of Complacency
Every day there are security breaches in companies that never believed they could be a victim. It isn’t just a company’s reputation that gets hurt though. The costs of a data breach can be extraordinary.
Research done by Kaspersky not only shows that an astonishing number of companies experience breaches, but that the costs are exorbitant. Take a small business:
- Data breaches averaged in cost at around £38,000
- Indirect losses from inability to sell or operate averaged around £8,000
- Additional incalculable losses were attributed to inability to operate the business temporarily as a result
These figures are just what businesses admitted to that could easily be calculated. Figures about loss to creditworthiness and public reputation are much higher and difficult to exactly calculate.
Large businesses suffered even greater losses, with costs reaching into the half a million dollar range. This is to say nothing about companies such as Sony, whom ended up party to a class action lawsuit.
But these problems are something you can avoid. There are services, practices and software that can minimise the likelihood of such events.
Rely on Quality Services
Rendering service over the internet means you’ll be using lots of different platforms. Nearly all will have logins that you need to remember.
Whether you’re working alone or for a business, it pays to manage those logins. Passwords can be hard to remember, especially if they’re well made. LastPass offers a great service for undera £12 a year for individuals, which will help secure your passwords and speed up login times.
Digital media specialists appreciate what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) has to offer. for their company and for their clients.
These services allow you to connect to a remote server nearly anywhere in the world. Not only does the included encryption help protect your data, but it also allows you to “relocate.”
With your VPN of choice activated, you can view search results from different markets. That alone is great, but the anonymity provided goes the extra step by keeping your internet usage safe from hackers. It’s one of the better ways to protect client information from a service perspective.
If you’re using a blog or website to help advertise your clients, you need to verify the platform and scripts are being updated regularly. We’ll discuss manual options below, but using a service such as Acunetix is convenient just because it does its job on its own. It’s a good way to deal with vulnerabilities such as Cross Site Scripting (XSS) that threaten visitors to your page.
Pick the Right Software
Aside of services that can help maintain security, there is also software you can use. A few well-known ones include:
- Anti-viral software
- Backup software
Anti-virus software is a given for most of us using computers, but not everyone thinks about installing it on mobile devices. Some work you do may be done on a tablet or even your smartphone; both are vulnerable to malware without a good anti-virus. Free licenses are available for select services (such as Avast or AVG), though purchasing a pro version offers additional security features and guarantees.
Firewalls are something we forget about relatively easy. They exist mainly to detect intrusions into your network and can help prevent hackers from sneaking in through open ports. In some cases, a firewall may be included with a paid anti-virus; Windows and Mac also come with default firewalls, but OSX doesn’t have it enabled by default. Be sure to turn it on or else opt for a third-party firewall.
But you can’t stop everything. New viruses come out regularly, security breaches are discovered before a company can update, and sometimes weird things like lightning striking your house happen. For those reasons and more, you want to be backing up any critical information. There are a couple of ways to do that:
- Subscribe to an automated service (convenient but less secure as it requires online interaction)
- Subscribe to backup software (helps you create backups yourself; fairly convenient)
- Backup manually (not so convenient, but free)
- When it comes to storing data, I tend to shy away from recommending an online service. It isn’t that they don’t do the job well, but that unlike physical media, they can be hacked or experience data breaches. You trade a certain level of convenience for greater security.While that decision may be yours, there are a few good options, such as Acronis (quite a mouthful), to choose from. Both offer great restore options; though Acronis also does online backups if that’s your thing. The former also works on smaller backups, while the latter is great for the whole system.
- If you prefer to go on the cheap, Windows and Mac also offer their own backup software, but neither are as good as third party.
Use Safe Internet Practices
One thing to note is that fancy services and software still won’t replace the key element in the equation: you. Given that you’re in online marketing, it’s safe to say you have at least a little knowledge about using the net. But some finer points are worth discussing.
According to Kaspersky, phishing scams are on the rise. This form of account theft mostly relies on convincing users to willfully hand over the keys to the castle by directing them to fake websites, posing as trusted confidants or impersonating government officials.
Identifying a scam isn’t always easy, so look for red flags:
- Strange requests (such as your SSN on a social media website)
- Links to “login pages”
- Clickbait links with anchor text such as “click here to x”
- Unusual emails from people you know
- Grammar mistakes
- Fake pages are easier to identify than you might think. Check the address in the address bar to see whether it matches the page you’re seeing; look for the .com/.org/.gov section, as the domain should immediately precede that. There’s a world of difference between face.book.com and facebook.com (other than the former not existing thankfully).When a client or friend gets hacked, normal behavior is to try to steal others’ information with deception. Watch out for unusual requests or changes in grammar, and when in doubt, contact the person via telephone or in person. You might save yourself from trouble and the person whose account was hacked.We discussed using LastPass for passwords earlier, but don’t neglect to actually make good passwords. Combine letters, numbers and symbols to make a password at least 8 characters long for ideal security. For example, a bad password might look like this:
Though it has length, it lacks character diversity. A good password looks a bit more like this:
You might also consider using a longer passphrase with similar elements:
Both variants are sufficiently difficult to hack both because of their length and diversity in elements. Notice how there is no complete dictionary words, numbers are located at random locations and capital letters are located within rather than just at the beginning.
If you’re using social media to promote (and who isn’t?), keep the account you use separated from personal accounts. Avoid posting any personal information either in your posts or on your account profile and avoid divulging information about clients other than what they want spread.
Lastly, get into a habit of sorting your digital files. In the same way an office is more secure when you know where everything is, the same is true about your virtual content. Client information that has been tampered with, moved or missing are red flags that something is wrong.
Think we missed something? Have questions for us?
- If you’ve got your own security tips, share in the comments.