Data Security is a Problem Marketers Must Help Fix

Data Security is a Problem Marketers Must Help Fix

Everything you need to know about 2020 is covered by the fact that “apocalypse bingo” is already an over-used cliché. So I doubt many marketers have found spare time to worry about data security – which most would consider someone else’s problem. But bear in mind that 92% of consumers say they would avoid a company after a data breach. So, like it or not, security is a marketer’s problem too. 

Unfortunately, the problem is a big one. I recently took a quick scan of research on the issue, prompted in particular by a headline that nearly half of companies release software they know contains security flaws.  The main culprit in that case is pressure to meet deadlines, compounded by poor training in security procedures. If there’s any good news, it’s that the most-used applications have fewer unresolved security flaws than average, suggesting that developers pay more attention when they know it’s most important. 

The research is not reassuring. It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but most security professionals see data breaches as inevitable. Indeed, many think a breach is good for their career, presumably because the experience makes them better at handling the next one. Let’s just be grateful they’re not airline pilots. 

Still, the professionals have a point. Nearly every company reports a business-impacting cyberattack in the past twelve months, . Even before COVID-19, fewer than half of IT experts were confident their organizations can stop data breaches with current resources.

The problems are legion. In addition to deadline pressures and poor training, researchers cite poorly vetted third-party code libraries , charmingly described as “shadow code”; compromised employee accounts, insecure cloud configurations, and attacks on Internet of Things devices.

Insecure work-from-home practices during the pandemic only add new risk. One bit of good news is that CIOs are spending more on security,  prioritizing access management and remote enablement. 

What’s a marketer to do?  One choice is to just shift your attention to something less stressful, like fire tornados and murder hornets. It’s been a tough year: I won’t judge. 

But you can also address the problem. System security in general is managed outside of most marketing departments. But marketers can still ensure their own teams are careful when handling customer data (see this handy list of tips from the CDP Institute). 

Marketers can also take a closer look at privacy compliance projects, which often require tighter controls on access to customer data. Here’s an overview of what that stack looks like.  CDP Institute also has a growing library of papers on the the topic.

Vendors like TrustArc, BigID, OneTrust, Privitar, and many others, offer packaged solutions to address these issues. So do many CDP vendors. Those solutions involve customer interactions, such as consent gathering and response to Data Subject Access Requests.  Marketers should help design those interactions, which are critical in convincing consumers to share personal data that marketers need for success. The policies and processes underlying those interfaces are even more important for delivering on the promises the interfaces make. 

In short, while privacy and security are not the same thing, any privacy solution includes a major security component. Marketers can play a major role in ensuring their company builds solid solutions for both. 

Or you can worry about locusts

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