Twitter was full of burns directed at Amazon Web Services (AWS) about a week ago, as the company struggled to get its S3 web-based storage service back online. Among the sage advice dispensed by users were suggestions to “just plug it back in” or, “turn it off and back on again.”
Jokes aside, sometimes we don’t realize how much we rely on a service until it’s swiftly taken out from under us – a painful truth that most marketers have come to realize.
In response to the outage, AWS, which maintains an estimated 40% of the overall cloud market, released a statement saying, “For S3, we believe we understand root cause and are working hard at repairing. Future updates across all services will be on dashboard.”
Given the rising popularity of cloud-based services Dropbox, Google Drive, Salesforce, Capterra, SearchCRM – to name a few – it’s no surprise that experts predict the number of data breaches in this sector will continue to grow, and that the risk is real.
As marketers continue to employ more personalized and targeted campaigns to better engage consumers, the need to collect a wide range of data on each unique prospect and create individual consumer profiles continues to grow – as does the risk of this data being breached.
Even though it was revealed that the AWS outage was caused by human error, it’s still crucial for us marketers take a step back, and try to understand what the consequences could have been for the community if it was a cyber attack.
What the AWS Outage Highlights About Keeping Customer Data Safe
According to reports, the AWS S3 system is used by 148,213 sites, and stores over 3-4 trillion pieces of data. When considering this magnitude, there’s no question that data traversing the cloud must be subject to the same level of scrutiny as its physical counterpart.
Even if this outage wasn’t the result of an attack, it still sheds light on what we stand to lose if cyber criminals focus their attention on taking down cloud services. Just think of all the data your prospects and customers have entrusted to your marketing department!
In the era of digital marketing, where organizations develop detailed profiles of individual consumers based on multiple data sources, even one data breach can serve to considerably harm consumer trust – and ultimately impact a company’s operations and revenue.
According to research from Deloitte University Press, 59% of consumers state that the knowledge of a data breach at a company would negatively impact their likelihood of buying from that company. The report also states, “the more data a company collects – and the more sensitive that data – the greater the data’s appeal to malevolent hackers, and the greater the risk associated with data breaches.”
Related Article – What Will Cybersecurity Marketing Look Like In 2017?
Keeping Marketing Data Secure in the Cloud
There’s no denying the appeal of cloud. Deploying technologies in dispersed and diverse environments in a quick, cost-effective way can prove beneficial for businesses across the board.
How can you ensure that your organization’s marketing data stays safe in the cloud? In terms of overall guidelines, make sure you adopt policies that are transparent, be cautious about collecting – and particularly sharing – data, reassure customers about steps you’re taking to keep their information safe, and most importantly – if there’s an attack, regain their trust.
Here are 5 key steps your marketing team should consider:
Step 1: Define Your Cloud
Work with your IT department to determine whether public, private, or hybrid cloud is best for your team. Traditionally, private cloud is considered the most secure. That isn’t to say that other options aren’t worth looking at; however, all options should be aligned with other security measures.
Step 2: Review SLAs and Plan Ahead
Create a plan to enable your marketing technologies while keeping data secure. This means reviewing the service level agreement (SLA) from your cloud provider and preparing for any gaps that may occur in the migration process and beyond.
Step 3: Go Beyond Your Application View
Consider inside and outside threats that could take down your cloud technology. Are you using IoT devices? Are employees using single sign on? Are there potential unknown endpoints connecting to the cloud?
Step 4: Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios
Prepare for attacks and outages. Always have a plan that your entire team is aware of in the case of an episode. This should outline failover plans and risk mitigation steps to follow.
Step 5: Devise a Crisis Communications Plan
It’s equally important to craft the marketing messaging that will need to be shared with your customer base if an attack does occur.
When a new attack makes the news, it’s up to the marketing department to respond quickly with a message that instills confidence in your cyber security solution.
Customers will feel exposed and concerned about the collateral damage of downtime or malicious activity, and having any of your infrastructure in the cloud, public or private, introduces a whole new degree of vulnerability.
Organizations considering signature-based detection solutions need to know that providers using these techniques may be hosting their databases of code in the cloud.
Rather than give up on the value that consumer data can lend to targeted campaigns, marketers should foster brand trust by meeting consumer expectations about data security.
In the event that we encounter another prolonged outage, your security services won’t be available, leaving you and your organization vulnerable to more attacks.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that your marketing team is prepared for the worst – especially when migrating to the cloud.