With companies spending an average of 7.5% of their revenues on marketing, it’s never been more important for CMOs to protect their investments and, in doing so, protect the brands they work so hard to build.
Today’s brands face constant threat from attackers seeking to exploit engagements on social media and other channels. From using your efforts to promote their own agendas to diverting traffic from your online assets and even selling counterfeits of your products, attacks come in many different forms. Given its ubiquity in the world of business-to-consumer communications, social media is one of the favorite mediums for attackers to exploit.
Marketing teams are now on the forefront of brand protection. To maximize their return on investment and add value throughout the business, marketing departments need to adopt a security-first approach. They can reap the benefits of social media without adding risk to the organization and to themselves.
Saying ‘yes’ without adding risk
SafeGuard Cyber’s digital security survey found that 80% of leaders believed that the use of social media channels in business contexts presented a medium to high level of risk to their organizations. A large part of brand protection begins with social media. Social networks are essential assets that no modern business should be without. However, they present risks in the form of social engineering, brand and reputation risk, and data privacy concerns.
Information security and compliance teams find themselves forced to implement rigorous policies governing the use of social media in the workplace due to the added risk. The enforcement of these policies often ends up being restrictive to the extent that they become barriers to innovation. It’s easier and less risky for security teams to just say no. Unfortunately, that also means missing out on a multitude of opportunities to increase the reach of your brand. It’s also important to remember that, even if your brand isn’t active on mainstream social channels, that doesn’t stop attackers from using it to target your customers.
To balance marketing and brand protection, teams need to proactively protect interactions with customers and stop attackers in their tracks. This is broadly a two-stage process: (1) securing known assets, such as your social media profiles (2) protecting against unknown threats, such as social engineering attacks and third-party vulnerabilities.
Securing the known
Securing the known might sound like the easy part, but almost half of companies lack full visibility into their digital assets. In other words, they don’t know where all their data lives. This is a problem that’s only getting more challenging to tackle due to the rapid adoption of cloud-based platforms. While business leaders may be fully aware of their official social media accounts, there’s a lot more that needs protecting. This includes business accounts belonging to individual employees, sponsored personalities, and key stakeholders. Attackers often go after high-profile targets, such as social media accounts owned by executive-level employees. For example, an attacker might target a CMO and compromise their social profiles in an effort to launch a devastating social engineering attack against their customers.
Securing your assets starts with knowing where they exist and ensuring they’re covered by your security policies. A security policy is only going to be useful if it’s properly enforced; that doesn’t mean imposing restrictions that hinder customer communications. Instead, account-level protections should be applied to all potentially sensitive assets. This ensures all outgoing posts and messages are vetted to comply with your policies in real time, before going live. At the same time, all outgoing communications will be archived.
By identifying and incorporating all third-party digital assets into your company’s information security strategy, teams across every department can use them in confidence. For marketing teams, this means increased reach and greater control over brand reputation management.
Protecting against the unknown
With fake social media accounts numbering in the hundreds of millions, brand protection over social channels can only be done with automation, ideally that which is augmented through the use of machine learning. Brands need a way to monitor social media and other platforms to identify unknown threats. Threats range from intellectual property theft, links to suspicious websites masquerading as your own, and counterfeit sales. If, for example, a bad actor is using a malicious account to masquerade as a representative from your marketing team and launch social engineering attacks against your customers, you need to know about it as soon as possible. Find out too late, and the blame may land on you, which places your whole brand at risk.
Detecting bad actors requires round-the-clock monitoring of social media platforms, as well as the web at large. You can’t protect against what you can’t see; immediate detection helps you identify impersonations and fake accounts before they inflict damage.. But the public internet isn’t the only threat businesses need to worry about.
Many stolen assets end up on the dark-web, a hidden counterpart to the internet which cybercriminals use to sell and exchange ill-gotten gains. A hacker might find a way to phish employees or customers and dupe them into surrendering confidential information, like login credentials or payment details on social media. They’ll then sell their information on the dark web, causing serious financial damage to their victims.
Given the volume of data and number of digital platforms, threat detection is most effective with machine learning. An ML-powered risk engine adapts to evolving business needs, increases review effectiveness, and keeps false positives to a minimum.
By implementing a unified defense infrastructure from review to remediation, businesses can safely incorporate modern platforms to boost the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns without risking everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Now that CMOs and their teams are at the forefront of brand protection and reputation, they too must take action to protect their digital assets and, in doing so, add value to their brands.
SafeGuard Cyber provides a fully automated solution for drastically reducing the risk of using third-party online platforms across the business. Contact us to learn more about securing known assets and protecting against unknown threats.
July 6, 2020