Cybersecurity for marketers: Teamwork is key to protect data

Marketing teams should regularly reevaluate how they approach cybersecurity and work in tandem with their IT department, especially during third-party mergers and acquisitions.

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There was a time when network security was merely a concern for security professionals and CISOs. But after serious, ongoing high-level breaches across multiple industries, it is now a significant concern for corporations and smaller businesses alike.

From 2017 to 2018 alone, the number of cybersecurity merger and acquisition deals rose by 12 percent, thanks to acquisitions by some big names in tech.

For instance, last January, cybersecurity startup Sqrrl was acquired by Amazon Web Services. Web security company Sucuri was acquired by hosting giant GoDaddy. Zenedge, a security provider using AI to detect malware and bots in the cloud, was acquired by Oracle in April. Secdo, known for their sophisticated threat detection methodology, was acquired by Palo Alto Networks. And the list goes on.

Each new merger or acquisition can create or expose new vulnerabilities. For digital marketers relying on these companies’ products and services, it should raise some eyebrows.

Acquiring companies can uncover significant security risks

Information protection, cybersecurity and information breach dangers are quite common when companies merge. Post-purchase disclosure of security issues and even notifiable breaches is an unreasonably often occurrence when it comes to acquisitions.

A recent report by Forbes revealed that nearly 40 percent of organizations who have been acquired or went through a merger said they found a cybersecurity issue during the due diligence period after the purchase or acquisition. Perhaps the most exceptional case was Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo.

Data breaches notwithstanding, there are countless issues that arise when integrating business systems. It’s often messy, buggy, and prone to vulnerabilities. When it comes to cybersecurity, extra care should be given to systems integration.

What digital marketers need to know about security

It’s apparent that partnerships can be a path to success for small businesses and their marketing teams. But domain and hosting providers, like GoDaddy and companies like it, will continue to make moves to acquire businesses that serve small business owners and digital marketers should pay attention to these changes.

Security specialists rush to call attention to the fact that advertising and marketing departments make an especially obvious target for hackers and malicious actors hoping to breach an organization’s cybersecurity program for data.

Since advertisers are more closely connected to networking on social media, they share a lot of close-to-home data. It can turn into a simple endeavor for programmers looking to social specialist their way inside an organization.

Social engineering attackers use this to their advantage by sending fake solicitations or requests via email or other messaging apps that, when opened or clicked on, will effortlessly infuse malware into a marketers PC. It’s imperative that marketers and their clients heed email best practices in their organizations.

Marketing teams also need to be cautious when working with a lot of outside vendors and software programs that require the exchange of delicate and confidential company information.

Embracing innovation, with assistance from IT

With the weight put on marketing teams to accomplish more with less and to show constant ROI, teams are enthusiastic for innovations to upgrade their processes and to work more productively and effectively.

But these advancements are not without hazard. Much the same as the marketing teams forces with the sales team, they should likewise collaborate with IT to ensure they are not creating hazards for the company due to security risks. If you are a CMO, one of your core responsibilities is to ensure the team is not creating more security vulnerabilities for the organization.

This is the reason why all marketing teams need to work with their CISO’s to audit solutions before using them. It’s also important to conduct staff training to build a balanced governance for daily operations.

Final thoughts

Today, marketing and advertising teams have yet to be recognized as a hazard in a company’s security protocols to the extent they should as they have turned out to be selected and labeled as potential targets during a cyber attack.

Marketing and advertising teams should regularly reevaluate how they approach cybersecurity – especially during a merger and acquisition – and to work in tandem, not separately, with the IT department.

Security programs and processes should be woven into everything that digital marketers do, making them genuine stewards of information security best practices.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Sam Bocetta
Sam Bocetta is a former security analyst for the DoD, having spent 30-plus years bolstering cyber defenses for the Navy. He is now semi-retired and educates the public about security and privacy technology. Much of his work involved penetration testing Navy ballistic systems. He analyzed networks looking for entry points, then created security-vulnerability assessments based on findings. He also helped plan, manage and execute sophisticated "ethical" hacking exercises to identify vulnerabilities and reduce the risk posture of enterprise systems.

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