Q3 2016

Digital marketing: Is it secure?

A Word About Cyber Security | With Dr John McCarthy

Digital marketing is a huge and growing industry with large chunks of marketing budgets now allocated to digital marketing. It can take many forms – some free or very cheap and others very expensive. There are now more digital channels than ever. Mobile advertising is in its infancy and targeted advertising is now very common. The market can only grow and become more widespread.

Digital marketing is unique in many ways and one of the most important is that anyone can access the tools needed to do it. They are often free and provided by major advertising platforms. This places it in a very different location to its predecessors.

Previously, specialists created and delivered TV, cinema and billboard adverts. That is still true today for many large organisations but many smaller organisations conduct independent online marketing. I wonder if they have ever considered cyber security issues when undertaking marketing? An interesting thought.

As we open up our organisations by publishing more and more about ourselves on the internet we lay ourselves open to social engineers and others who may have a criminal intent. Our blogs, including this one, can reveal things about ourselves that could be used against us. It is a fine balance between openness and safeguarding. We also have to consider the severe impact social media use can have on a business’s reputation. Managing and even trying to control this is very tricky and can backfire in many ways. In this context finding out what is being said about you is vital to know.

Digital marketers need to know how to safely manage and secure the systems they use. As they may not have an IT or security background it cannot be assumed they know how to do this. Marketing is open in nature and security may seem alien to those working in that industry.

This issue is rising in importance and we need to be aware of the cyber risks online marketing can hold. I am not against online marketing; it is one of the greatest benefits to advertising in the last two decades. The metrics it provides are truly amazing and importantly it is in this context we need to be aware of what information we collect and how we manage it. Digital marketing is the future, let’s ensure what we do it safely and securely.

This article was originally published by International Airport Review.

About Dr John McCarthy

Dr John McCarthy PhD BSc (Hons) MBCS is a renowned authority on cyber security strategy, development and implementation and is an Airport Cyber Security Fellow for ServiceTec Global Services.

Dr McCarthy is frequently invited to sit on expert panels and appear as a speaker at well-known security events including International Airport Review’s own Airport Security and Airport IT events. Past appearances have included talks on ICT Security in the Modern Airport, Security in the Digital Age and SCADA threats in the Modern Airport. He has also been a member of International Airport Review’s Editorial Board since January 2014.

Dr McCarthy is also a leading expert on social engineering awareness training and best practice.