Security threats loom over everyone working online, especially digital marketers who manage multiple websites, content channels, and social media accounts.
A serious breach could expose both business and client information, impacting the bottom line of all those involved.
As cybercriminals come up with novel ways of stealing private data, the importance of web security in digital marketing continues to rise.
But what are the most common security vulnerabilities? How can you go about protecting your digital marketing endeavors?
Areas of Importance of Cybersecurity in Digital Marketing: How Can You Protect Them? Digital marketing relies heavily on the safe management of online data and accounts.
To this end, marketers may take similar precautionary measures that any individual looking to protect their privacy would take. However, there are some aspects that are unique to professionals working online.
Here are some of the most important areas marketers must consider.
Social Media and Account Passwords The world of social media poses extensive cybersecurity challenges for digital marketers.
To begin with, we put our faith in the security of the platforms themselves, even knowing that large-scale data breaches could happen at some point.
However, since that’s largely out of our control, we must focus on what we can do. In other words, be vigilant of our own behavior.
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Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site One click on the wrong link or forgetting to log out on a shared device could tarnish a brand’s image and compromise sensitive data.
Follow these rules when managing social media accounts to reduce security risks:
Only use strong passwords, that is, at least eight characters containing upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Revoke former team members’ access privileges so they cannot post, delete, or edit anything from the accounts after they’ve left your team. Turn on two-factor authentication so that, even if a password is compromised, there’s an extra step to successfully log in. Use a monitoring service that checks the clear and dark web for signs that your account details have been leaked. Limit the use of third-party apps and scripts with account permissions. Don’t log in from personal devices; use a dedicated work device instead. Never use marketing or brand accounts for personal purposes. If you’re part of a larger team, have someone do editorial work on the content before you post it. Websites, CMSs, and Web Hosts Keeping your business site and client websites secure should be a top priority. If a hacker gets into your system, the best case scenario is that they render the site temporarily unusable.
Worst case scenario?
They steal sensitive data or hold it for ransom.
Either way, your reputation as a professional is on the line.
These digital marketing cybersecurity concerns start with the webhost. We recommend you only use a well-respected host that has built-in security features. Also, if you use a virtual or dedicated server, always pay the extra fee for the managed option.
This means you aren’t solely responsible for the technical aspects of the server. Basic levels of security are handled for you and, if something goes wrong, experts are on hand to help.
Moreover, a site shield or firewall provides an extra layer of security between the website’s backend and the public internet. All requests are monitored, and abnormal activity is easily detected.
It’s also important to keep your content management system (CMS) and other website software up to date. Cybercriminals and developers play a cat-and-mouse game, where one discovers vulnerabilities and the other tries to fix them as quickly as possible, before too much damage is done.
Updates come with these new fixes and can usually installed automatically or in one click. So, don’t be the lazy, naïve one who doesn’t think their site will be a target. Keep your software updated.
Plus, performing regular backups allows you to easily revert to a working version of the site, in case a breach occurs.
Malware and Viruses Sometimes, hackers rely on brute force to make their way into your system, like guessing passwords or exploiting an inherent vulnerability in your website. Oftentimes, though, they choose to infect their target with malware first.
These viruses and trojans can sneak in from all directions.
For example, your personal computer could get infected and, once you upload a file to the website you manage, you may unknowingly pass on malicious code that steals private data and sends it to the hacker.
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Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site In this scenario, a compromised password wasn’t behind the unauthorized access. The security of your computer was just as important as the security of the website.
Keep in mind that if you correspond with clients regularly and everyone in your team has varying degrees of access to accounts, security risks increase greatly.
So, when you consider how to protect your websites, socials, and other marketing channels, don’t forget the important role home and personal network security play in digital marketing.
Here are some steps digital marketers can take to help prevent the spread of malware:
Have separate devices for work and home so your personal activity cannot affect your professional accounts. Use antivirus software with real-time protection and encourage your clients to do the same. Have a firewall on your work devices so only trusted traffic and applications can run. Connect to the internet using a VPN to encrypt your traffic and prevent snooping. Staying safe on public WiFi is the number one priority. If there are issues connecting to a VPN, here is a detailed guide to bypass these problems.
Digital Marketing Tools As marketers, we constantly use website plugins and standalone tools to make life easier. When formulating your digital marketing and web security strategy, consider that these tools bring risks of their own.
Just like CMSs, plug-ins and add-ons must be kept up to date to remain secure.
Furthermore, it’s always better to choose well-known solutions with a positive track record than an untested alternative. Although a new tool might seem to be just what you need, it could cause more harm than good if you’re an early adopter and security guinea pig.
Fortunately, nowadays, it’s easy to check ratings, reviews, and the number of downloads a tool has.
For cloud-based and standalone software solutions, remember to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to protect your accounts.
Email You cannot underestimate the importance of cybersecurity in digital marketing when it comes to email. Be it managing campaigns or doing routine admin, the truth is that a good portion of marketing efforts are spent on emails.
Unfortunately, electronic mailboxes are extremely vulnerable platforms. This is mainly due to phishing—i.e., when cybercriminals send fake emails that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
The aim is to trick you into clicking on dangerous links that infect you with malware or capture your login details. For example, a fake banking page that steals your real banking info.
In theory, those who work in digital marketing are more adept at spotting phishing attempts, but even the wisest can fall victim to these tricks.
To improve email security among your marketing team, you can:
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Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site Enforce a policy of never providing confidential information over email. Use a URL checker alongside antivirus software to detect phishing links. Do manual two-factor authentication. That is, forward legitimate-looking emails to the purported sender’s known email address or confirm its validity using a secondary channel (like Facebook Messenger). Transactions When considering the importance of cybersecurity, ecommerce is high on the list.
Web marketers commonly work with online businesses that use payment services and handle customer data. Cybercriminals are working day and night to get their hands on this information.
As you can imagine, the introduction of customers into the equation increases security risks. This is especially true if the online store allows them to register and save their payment information.
Therefore, customers should be encouraged to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication themselves.
Social engineering also raises cybersecurity challenges in digital marketing. This is when criminals pose as customers and use human weaknesses to bypass security. For example, phoning in a fraudulent order or calling customer support and talking them into revealing confidential info, like login details.
So, make sure to enforce strict verification processes when dealing with customers one-on-one.
To reduce the security risks associated with ecommerce, we also recommend you:
Only store the data necessary to complete transactions. Holding onto data is just asking for it to be stolen and might even breach privacy regulations. Always use a secure SSL certificate for the HTTPS protocol. Most web hosts offer this as standard nowadays. Use trusted payment services that are regulatory compliant, such as the PCI-DSS requirements for credit card transactions. Pay special attention to payment related website plugins. Are they up to date and widely used? Marketing Materials Written copy and marketing assets are not as useful as financial data, but you still don’t want your work falling into the wrong hands.
Remember to use permissions or password-protected folders when sharing materials among your team and clients.
Even converting files from Word to PDF before sharing them adds an extra layer of security, as it can fool automated bots that are trying to mine text information.
Conclusion The importance of web security in digital marketing is paramount if you want to build trust with your clients and safely expand your business.
You can mitigate risk by employing basic security principles, like strong passwords, two-factor authentication, up-to-date web tools, and antivirus software. VPNs and separating home and work activity can help, too.
Most of all, remember that using common sense and staying educated on cybersecurity risks, like phishing and social engineering, goes a long way when it comes to keeping your digital data safe.
Author Bio: Milos Djordjevic is an SEO specialist with a Master’s degree in marketing. Interested in tech and digital tools and their appropriate and effective relation. Working at VPNCentral, emphasizing the importance of internet protection and privacy.