Making Contact Safely – An Online Marketer’s Cybersecurity Checklist
Editor’s Note: The following guest post comes from Cassie Phillips, an internet security expert and blogger. Cassie is going to share with us her perspectives on how to stay safe while marketing online.
There is so much that goes into a successful online marketing campaign. From establishing the right avenues of promotion to ensuring regular and relevant content, it’s understandable why so many marketers leave their cybersecurity as an afterthought.
With online crime on a constant and unrelenting rise, the chance of your online endeavors coming into contact with a problem is becoming increasingly likely every day. There are so many varying platforms and tools used in a successful campaign, and each requires specific security considerations. If you are unsure whether or not the security procedures that you have in place are up to scratch, then follow this quick checklist to cover all your bases.
Many fall at the first hurdle when it comes to security. What they fail to realize is if you haven’t adequately protected your computer system, then any other efforts to secure your campaign will be in vain. Sloppy personal security is one of the greatest vulnerabilities to online business ventures. If you haven’t at least got a few basic layers of protection in place, then you should remedy this now.
The most basic setup usually involves a firewall and anti-virus. These pieces of software provide a barrier against malware in particular and can prevent your work, both on and offline, from becoming corrupted or infected.
As a marketer, email is likely one of your primary forms of communication. Unfortunately, this means a significant amount of sensitive data about your campaigns is stored within your account. As many hackers find their potential victims via email, it’s important to be stringent about protecting yourself here.
Firstly, avoid opening or clicking on links in messages where you do not know or trust the sender. Beyond this, there are many anti-malware scanning programs you can add directly to your account that will warn you of any threats before you encounter them.
It may seem obvious, but it can’t be reiterated often enough: Passwords are one of your strongest security precautions. It’s easy to get frustrated with having to remember endless combinations, but it really is worth taking the time to optimize all of your logins. There are several password management systems that can prevent you from having to remember them all.
Good tips for a strong password include:
- Ensuring it is eight characters or more in length.
- Using a variety of symbols, e.g., upper and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation.
- Avoiding common words or phrases such as “password”.
- Avoiding personal information, such as birthdates or pet names.
It’s also extremely important to ensure your passwords for each account are totally unique to avoid a full-scale attack over several platforms.
By far one of the most common yet overlooked causes of an online infiltration for marketers comes from an unfortunate loophole in one of the most convenient tools of any online worker’s arsenal: public WiFi. These networks are notoriously unsecure as they leave your data exposed. This means login details, bank information and campaign data can be easily intercepted by anyone else connected to the hotspot.
Fortunately, this can be easily resolved by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Installing the software package onto your computer or smartphone can encrypt all of your data and allow you to connect to any network securely and anonymously. Secure Thoughts is a great VPN resource if you want more information on how this process works.
Website & Social Media Security
Regarding elements of your marketing campaign that are purposefully visible on the internet, a different tactic has to be employed to ensure their safety.
If you’re running a website, it’s essential to investigate potential plug-ins that could add valuable added layers of protection. Particularly if you’re working with WordPress, there are a whole host of great applications that provide you with a variety of different bonus security features. This can include a dedicated firewall and anti-virus, protection from brute force attacks, two-step authentication and much, much more.
As social media is becoming an increasingly popular outlet for marketing campaigns, it’s also worth noting some platform-specific tips:
- Thoroughly investigate the inbuilt privacy settings on each site; often you can tailor them to fit your needs.
- Change your password regularly, as social media suffers from brute force attacks on a regular basis.
- Set up two-stage authentication for logins from a new device.
- Ensure you and your team are briefed not to click on suspicious links.
Finally, the bottom line of protection any marketer has is a backup. No matter what happens, if you have successfully stored a system copy, you can restore your work to the point of its last save. However, this all falls apart if you fail to protect your backups by not properly utilizing the storage systems available.
While cloud storage is convenient, it holds many of the same flaws as any other online platform. On the other hand, while external physical hard drives may be safe from hackers, they are easily corruptible if dropped or damaged. Because of this, it’s wise to back up any important work using both outlets. This way, the likelihood of completely losing your work is practically zero.
Security should never be an overwhelming part of any marketing campaign, but it is an element that is essential to consider. By following this list you can confidently check off the main features of a comprehensive security setup and focus on putting your effort into the most important part of your work—the actual marketing!
Do you have any other online marketing security tips? Share them in the comments below!
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