Marketers, get a grip on data security

Terms such as data breach, identity protection and customer security might sound like the domain of the IT manager rather than the marketing department. However, these are increasingly becoming an issue for marketers as data security breaches start to have a serious impact on brand reputation and sales.

Retailers like Target and most recently, Club21, have all suffered a lasting negative impact following data breaches. As I see it, security is no longer just a worry for the tech department, marketers ought to be concerned too.

Get a Grip on Data Security

As business landscapes continue to shift, digital marketing has become a lead contender in driving business growth. There’s big data, analytics, ecommerce, CRM, social media and mobile marketing just to name a few. What this means is that marketing now centres around data insights to understand customer behaviour and trends. In short, marketing strategies have evolved to become a flow of data to and from customers. Hackers know this, and realise that data is an organisation’s most valuable asset.

It’s a painful but serious topic, and one that every marketer should concern themselves with. If you collect data from customers, you are responsible for ensuring their protection.

But this is easier said than done. With the trust gap widening, alleviating consumer concerns has become more complicated for marketers. Marketers need to build security into their data centres where critical customer information is stored. Eventually, good custodianship is no longer a matter of what processes you have in place or how you use the data. It’s also about what security you have to protect the data at its source – within the data centre.

Get to Know the IT Guys

In order to fulfil your obligations on protecting customer data you will need a strong strategic partnership with your IT department. Your IT department is experienced in dealing with data and developing methods to protect it. They will know that they need to work with a data centre security partner like Imperva and are better equipped to set up internal processes to minimise the risk of data breaches.

Below is an overview of the key steps to mitigate the risks of a data security breach:

  • Know your data: The first step in protecting your data is in knowing where it is, and who has access to it
  • Improving your internal data controls: Set up controls to watch for data transfers. Audit and deploy behaviour alert systems to flag abnormal behaviour from a user with privileged access
  • Staff knowledge: Educating staff about the importance of data protection is key to guard against abuse
  • Lock it down: Ensure you have a secure data centre system to store and protect sensitive assets

Inevitably, your role as a marketer will become more reliant on digital sales channels and data collection, but doing so without the solid foundation of data security is a very high risk. By teaming up with your IT department now and sharing the responsibilities, you can develop processes that will serve both you and your customers and keep data safe. If you haven’t already, it might be time to get to know your IT team and make sure your strategies are aligned.

So for all marketers out there, welcome to the world of data security. It’s time we got better acquainted.

The writer Stree Naidu, VP of Imperva Asia Pacific and Japan.