When you think of digital marketing, several things probably come to mind — ads, return on investment, analytics, and more. But one thing that might not come to mind is security. Security is always important, of course, but what does it have to do with marketing?
The truth is, online marketing security is a vital consideration for any business, including yours. By following best security practices for your online marketing efforts, you can better protect yourself and your customers against outside threats.
But what exactly are those threats, and what can you do to stop them? Keep reading for an overview of marketing security. Then subscribe to Revenue Weekly, our email newsletter, for more digital marketing tips from the experts!
What is online marketing security?
Online marketing security — or marsec — is the process of protecting sensitive data involved in your digital marketing efforts. That data includes anything from financial data to lists of email addresses and phone numbers.
If people hack into your online databases or your website, they have the opportunity to steal any of the data you’ve used in your marketing. Marsec helps you prevent that from happening.
Why does marsec matter?
You might wonder what makes marsec so important. What’s so vital about your marketing data and why do you need to protect it?
The answer is that much of your marketing data is extremely sensitive. Your website’s bounce rate metrics? Maybe not. But your customers’ credit card numbers? Definitely.
That’s another thing to consider — marketing security protects multiple parties. Firstly, it protects your company from having people break in and shut down your website or find ways to steal your revenue.
But it also protects your customers. You likely gather data on your customers to market to them, including their demographics and where they’re located. And when they purchase products or services from you, they may provide their financial information on your site.
Marketing security aims to protect all that data from outside threats.
What website security threats do I face?
We’ve mentioned “outside threats” a couple of times now, but what does that mean? What types of threats are there, and how can they breach your defenses to hurt your business?
Typically, the threats we’re talking about are hackers and bots. They might use various methods to break through your security, including:
- Malware and viruses: Malware is arguably the most common way for hackers to breach your defenses. Whether it’s through getting you to click a malicious link or by hacking straight into your site, they’ll inject viruses that steal or destroy data.
- Third-party entry: This is where hackers take advantage of third-party software you’re using in your marketing. The connection points between different programs are often vulnerable to exploitation, with hackers using one of those programs to enter your site.
- Formjacking: Formjacking is where hackers will hack into the forms used in your online store. When users fill out their financial and personal information, hackers will have direct access to it.
The above methods are just a few of the most common ones, but they all end with hackers possessing sensitive data that hurts you, your customers, or both.
How can you prevent online marketing security breaches?
With so many concerns surrounding possible marketing data breaches, what can you do to secure your site? Thankfully, there are several website security tactics you can implement. Here are four of the best ones:
1. Implement the HTTPS protocol
The first and simplest step you should take is to use HTTPS on your website. This step alone will patch up countless vulnerabilities and save you tons of time and worry.
What is HTTPS, you ask? Put simply, it’s a web protocol that provides a base layer of security for your website, keeping out the most common types of threats like spam bots.
Additionally, Google prioritizes HTTPS sites over HTTP ones, ranking them higher in search results. So, using HTTPs benefits your marketing too.
2. Use strong passwords and 2FA
It goes without saying that you need to use passwords for all your different accounts. Any tools you use, any databases where you store information, and — in particular — access to your website should all be password-protected. But it goes beyond that.
You shouldn’t just use any passwords. You should aim to use strong passwords, which means avoiding easy-to-guess phrases or using the same password for everything. It can even be a good idea to change your passwords every so often to stay three steps ahead of hackers.
On top of that, it’s advisable to use two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA refers to a setup where inputting a password is only the first step. If someone enters the correct password, the program will then text, email, or call the user to verify that it’s them.
Taking these steps can help you beat hackers who might try to break into your marketing data via brute-force attacks.
3. Run penetration tests on your website
Penetration tests are easily one of the best ways to defend your website from hackers. What are penetration tests, you ask? It’s where you scour your site for possible weaknesses so you can eliminate them. You do this by simulating a hacker.
Basically, you sit down and start trying to attack your site from the outside as though you were a hacker trying to break in. You try every entry point you can think of, looking for any possible way in. If you succeed, you can then turn around and plug up the newly-discovered hole you’ve found in your defenses.
There are two ways to go about this — either you can have a team of experts conduct these tests, or you can get an automated program to do it. Both can be effective, though a team of people will usually have more success.
4. Install anti-malware scanning software
Finally, you can install software on your website and computers that will constantly scan for any sign of malware. As soon as this software finds any viruses, it will alert you and let you know of steps you should take to remove them.
Many anti-malware programs go a step further and destroy the malware as soon as it finds it. Of course, it still lets you know that it was there so you can ensure there are no further issues.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll want a way to detect malware.
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WebFX can help you boost your website security
Want some help upgrading your marketing security efforts? Just partner with WebFX! We’ve been optimizing digital marketing and building websites for over 25 years, and that includes handling online security for all the businesses who partner with us.
With our website security services, you’ll get help taking all the necessary precautions to protect sensitive data belonging to both you and your customers. You’ll even receive a dedicated account representative to keep you in the loop on everything we do for you.
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