Your brand’s reputation and revenue rely on the success and longevity of your digital marketing campaign. Among the many mistakes a digital marketer can make, failing to secure digital data at every point has the deepest consequences. Not only can data be stolen and misused, but it can also be lost, deleted, and corrupted.
If you’re unprepared, dealing with lost or stolen data can damage your digital marketing efforts. Here are several common mistakes along with ways to mitigate the effects:
1. Not regularly backing up your website in full
What would hundreds of marketing hours and thousands of dollars be worth if tomorrow your website got hacked beyond repair?
Protect your digital marketing efforts by maintaining a regular schedule of backups including databases. Be sure to download your backups and store them on your own backup hard drive. Don’t delete older backups unless necessary. It’s best to have a dedicated hard drive so you can save as many versions as possible.
2. Not encrypting email communications
Email communications appear to be private. At first glance, it seems like emails can only be accessed if someone hacks your email account. That’s not true. Emails can be hijacked while in transit and as they rest on your email provider’s server.
You probably don’t need to worry about national competitors trying to hack your emails, but it might happen with smaller competition.
To avoid having your contact list or secret marketing ideas hijacked, anything you send through email should be encrypted end-to-end. Even if you’re using a program like Microsoft Office 365, there’s good reason to seek third-party encryption add-on services outside of Microsoft. For instance, although Azure RMS encrypts outbound messages with TLS, when the content reaches Microsoft servers, it’s stored unprotected. If someone hacked Microsoft’s servers, they could access your data. If the law requires your data to be secured from unauthorized parties at all times, this could be a violation.
Many third-party applications make the process of email encryption difficult. Users have to create a separate username and password to access their secure messages. They also have to download a new application to view encrypted messages. If a recipient isn’t aware of how it works, they may be unwilling to download the application.
On the other hand, Virtru is a third-party solution that encrypts data at every point and allows users to read secured emails without having to create new credentials. Users with Virtu installed can read secure emails from their inbox. Users without Virtu installed can read secured emails from the web after authenticating with their existing email credentials – no downloads necessary.
3. Allowing comments on your blog without disabling code
If you’re a blogger, you thrive on comments, so it doesn’t make sense to disable them. There’s nothing wrong with allowing comments, but if you haven’t disabled comments from executing code, you’re a sitting duck for hackers.
If you don’t disable code within comments, you’ll soon become the victim of SQL injection. SQL injection is when a hacker executes an SQL statement in a user input area. The SQL statement performs a malicious task like bypassing authentication, impersonating users, or commenting out portions of an SQL query to control it.
By injecting the right code, hackers can access your entire database.
“By leveraging an SQL Injection vulnerability,” Acunetix explains, “given the right circumstances, an attacker can use it to bypass a web application’s authentication and authorization mechanisms and retrieve the contents of an entire database.”
What kind of data have you been collecting? Customer names and email addresses? Credit card numbers? Bank account information? If it’s in your database, it’s vulnerable.
4. Moving forward too soon when your website gets hacked
Say your website gets hacked and you don’t notice until your webhost sends you a notice that your domain is the source of a phishing scam. When you comb through your files, you discover the hack occurred over six months ago. It looks like old news, but the longer your site has been hacked, the worse it can be. Backdoors multiply, and sometimes infiltrate hidden files and folders.
Deleting hacked files and uploading clean copies may not be enough. You need to perform damage control with a professional malware scan before you relaunch your site. Don’t allow customers to enter private information or credit cards through your site until you’re sure the situation has been resolved.
Keep customer data secure to maintain their trust
Avoid having to explain a trust-diminishing data breach to your customers in the future. Keep your data secure, so you can continue marketing to your list and build their trust.