The Chief Marketing Officer and Cybersecurity

When it comes to cybersecurity, your chief marketing officer should be involved in your company’s strategy, writes Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum, in an article in Target Marketing. “CMOs are tasked with brand management, and a brand’s reputation is likely to be the most visibly damaged asset in the aftermath of a breach. Likewise, data-driven marketing is fueled by customer trust. Preparation, protection and responsiveness are key to containing the damage and preserving that trust,” says Durbin.

Although many CMOs are not usually involved in the security department, there are ways to ensure a collaboration between the information, security and marketing factions within your company.

“It starts with increased communication with the CEO, CIO and the Board of Directors,” writes Durbin. “The leaders at the top of an organization have the clearest view of the ‘big picture’, and a duty to share it across the enterprise…If this synergy between the BoD and the CMO is lacking, collaborating on complex issues like cybersecurity and data management will likely be frustrating.”

When a cybersecurity attack occurs, the CMO should “map out a detailed strategy for how brand, customer and product concerns will be addressed in the aftermath of a breach,” says Durbin.

The CMO should focus on three areas: Big Data, Internet of Things and privacy regulations.

Big Data: As companies collect more information about their customers, the associated risk and customer wariness grows, says Durbin.

“There is a strong need for better engagement among key stakeholders and joined-up thinking throughout organizations, from the CMO’s office to the IT department. Continuous collaboration around the adoption of clear guidelines and best practices on the use, storage, encryption and transfer of data is imperative to both brand reputation and customer security,” writes Durbin.

The Internet of Things: As connected devices increasingly converge through our dependence on mobile devices, CMOs can get more insight than ever into consumer habits, says Durbin. This tracking ability comes with a price, however. “The security threats of the IoT are broad and potentially devastating. Organizations must begin planning now to ensure that such deeply interconnected technology adheres to high standards of safety and security, for the sake of consumers and companies alike,” writes Durbin.

Privacy and Regulation: Governments are working to create regulations on companies to safeguard consumer data, says Durbin. “As a result, organizations need to treat privacy as both a compliance and business risk issue, in order to reduce regulatory sanctions and commercial impacts. For example: reputational damage and loss of customers or contracts due to privacy breaches,” he writes.

This need for caution is especially true for multi-national organizations that deal in many markets and legislative environments, says Durbin.