The CMO and Cybersecurity

CMO and CybersecurityA Brand’s Reputation is Likely to be the Most Visibly Damaged Asset in the Aftermath of a Breach

In this digital age, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) may know more about his or her customers than ever before. However, handling all this information improperly can expose the organization to attacks by cyber criminals interested in that very same data.

As a result, marketing leaders must now incorporate security into their strategic planning in order to safely utilize this valuable customer information. A brand’s reputation is likely to be the most visibly damaged asset in the aftermath of a breach.

These were among the points suggested by Target Marketing magazine recently in a thoughtful review of the relationship between CMOs and Cybersecurity.

Three areas of information security are suggested that CMOs should keep in their lines of sight: The Internet of Things, Big Data, and Privacy Regulations. Each of these is discussed from a CMO perspective:

  • Increasingly, nearly every smart, connected product we use is always on and may be transmitting data about customers.
  • Consumers are increasingly alarmed about how much of their personal data is being collected and with whom the data is being shared.
  • Governments are increasingly imposing regulations pertaining to the safeguarding and use of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), with penalties for organizations that fail to sufficiently protect it.

To address these concerns requires adoption of clear guidelines on the use, storage, encryption and transfer of data. High-level corporate secrets, vital infrastructure and brand image are constantly under attack. Analysts have estimated that in the next four years the global cost to business from cyber crime will likely quadruple to more than $2 trillion.
Organizations are under attack by organized crime, state-sponsored covert operatives and general fraudsters. Any one of these may target a different asset in accordance with their motives which may include money, PII, trade secrets and reputation. Hackers may even leverage the value of stolen information to demand ransom by threatening its release to smear a company’s brand reputation.

We certainly agree with this author’s point that optimizing security practices should be an enterprise-wide mission, and that every executive is responsible for clearly demonstrating that it is a top priority. Organizations where all stakeholders work together toward building a strong defense will be most likely to thrive under the immense pressures coming from cyberattacks.

As digital files proliferate, implementing an appropriate Data Loss Prevention solution can assist in this defense by enabling visibility to sensitive information and helping enforce the organization’s information governance rules for handling that data. For an introduction to this solution see reducing the threat of a cyberattack.