This is a guest post contribution by Cassie Phillips.
Your marketing team is on the front lines of your business, making contacts and spreading the message of your company, using creativity to land the links and content other companies can’t get. They deserve the best compliments you can give them, and even more than that they deserve the resources to do their jobs optimally and safely. Cybercriminal activity is on the rise, and it seems that it’s up to each company to keep their information and communications safe.
Of course, it’s not only employees and their personal accounts that need protection but the bottom line of the company as a whole. Data breaches are expensive, and if you work with client or customer information, nothing will send them running faster than the knowledge that it is unsafe to do business with you. Security risks come from any area of business, but your marketing team needs to be taken care of first due to their constant contact with the net. Some necessary investments of time and energy now will save you in the long run.
Here are the five top steps you need to take for a more secure business:
#1.) Look at Your Team’s Setup from the Outside
Here’s an experiment or exercise to try when you’re at home. Go into your computer and try to look up your company. Try to find employees in a professional capacity and see how they connect with business accounts. Search for business accounts (including you own) and see how easy it could be for someone to break into one. Try to search for your business in every way you can imagine, and then consider what could happen if those accounts and profiles get compromised. What would happen to your company’s reputation?
Hackers know what you have. If they don’t know exactly, they’re certainly willing to take an educated guess as to your team’s marketing tools and try out a few things. It usually works out for them. Try to assume that any unnatural advantage you might have in knowing what your company works with is matched by a potential hacker’s experience and persistence. Let that sink in for a little bit, then make out a long list of what a hacker might know or have access to just from a brief online search. List your concerns, even those you don’t know how to solve.
#2.) Secure Central Online Accounts
Who has access to what isn’t necessarily a complete indicator of importance to the company as a whole, but if your accounts get compromised, the situation is a whole lot worse than when your employee’s account gets compromised. Some accounts have more sensitive information attached to them or are gateways to other bases of information or communication. Attacks on those accounts in particular are much harder to contain and can prove much more disastrous.
Identify which accounts and databases in your company are most important or vital, and limit access to them. Find some way to reduce the risk in them, and at least require multiple forms of verification, so a leaked password doesn’t set your team back months. Email addresses are a good place to start, and social media accounts can do a lot of damage if left unchecked, especially in the marketing field. Ask serious questions about the value of individual accounts and make the tough decisions regarding efficiency, cyber security and technology policies.
#3.) Develop Uniform Rules and Cybersecurity Practices
Everyone on your marketing team and preferably in the company needs to be on the same page. You could be attacked at your weakest link, and when that happens, the extra measures everyone else is taking to protect company assets and data won’t make up for that one bad link. You need to take input and develop a set of guidelines (or have some developed for you) so that your marketing team can work freely without questioning every other action from a cyber security standpoint. Uniform guidelines will make the team both more efficient and safer.
Remember that the basic steps and practices of cyber security are the most important. Encourage team members to ask questions, even if they seem basic. Create a culture of learning instead of anxiety. Some members will learn faster than others, and that is all right so long as they do eventually learn. Ask yourself what policies are working and what might need to be adjusted. Make the rules easy to implement and provide necessary resources. You might want to consider hiring a consultant to make the transition easier, depending on your company’s setup.
#4.) Get Virtual Private Networks for Travelers and Meetings
The world your marketing team inhabits is far more environmentally diverse than you may first consider. Some will likely travel to make important meetings or deals. You might very well be dealing with remote workers (something that you should consider as it will broaden the marketing talent pool you can search in considerably), and their work locations might not be as inherently safe as the central office. Unsafe public networks will likely have to be used at one point or another. Hackers will take advantage of any of the above situations.
You should probably see which employees need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and equip them with it, taking care of the minimal costs and considering it an investment in general security and business privacy. It is a service that’ll connect devices to a secure offsite server and encrypt their connection. Companies have used internal VPNs for years now, and the consumer market has been showing rapid growth. Whatever option you choose for your business, know that being able to hide IP addresses and having encryption on any network is a valuable thing to consider.
#5.) Check and Update Often
There will always be new threats and scams appearing that you need to warn your team about, and training needs to be reinforced every once in a while, especially if the skills and habits being taught are passive. Schedule a review every couple of months (you can attach it to another regular meeting), and don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your current guidelines as long as they are well-publicized within the team.
Of course, there will be more to do than simply following the above steps. The particular needs of your company and team will be as varied as personalities and business models. The above is a framework you can quickly build off of. Just be willing to look out for danger in the future and to accept new ideas as they come along. In the world of technology and cybersecurity, you can afford no other mindset.
Do you have any other ideas to secure your digital assets and your marketing team’s vital data? Are there any general company policies that you have that you’d be willing to share with your fellow readers? Any concerns or threats in the future that you think need to be noticed? If so, please leave a comment below and continue this important conversation.
Featured Image Credit (Shutterstock/Newswire)