5 Ways Your CMO can Make or Break Cybersecurity

5 Ways Your CMO can Make or Break Cybersecurity

The need for CMO in cybersecurity

Marketers are storytellers. They represent your brand in multiple ways, weave stories based on the essence of your brand. They are essentially the face of your organization to the outside world, providing sneak peeks into your company, generating enough curiosity to get to you through different media. The conductor of this orchestra is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

This section of the C-suite wears multiple hats, and ought to have several tricks up their sleeve to make marketing happen. Customer engagement, driving the growth of the company, directing the company towards innovation, and, most importantly, driving the narration of the different facets of the company story across platforms.

Given the CMO’s and the marketing team’s relationship with the outside world, they uphold your brand’s status quo. Whenever this reputation is challenged, they are the ones who are on the front lines doing damage control. Whether it is a wrong statement by someone from the company or a product issue that went viral, they ensure your reputation is not tarnished. And worse, they have to experience the public backlash when something as catastrophic as a data breach occurs.

With the brand reputation, being so crucial to business, it is imperative that your CMO is fully involved in cybersecurity—there is simply no other way.

In this read, we’ll discuss the various roles and vectors pertaining to CMOs and how they can play a crucial role in cybersecurity.

The roles of a CMO and how they cross paths with cybersecurity and compliance:

Back in 2014, a Harvard Business Review article stated that CMOs’ role is evolving into Chief marketing technologists. Describing the role as an amalgamation of “part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher”, driving innovation in the product as well as business. Now it is evolving to a role that requires a seat in the table of discussion for cybersecurity.

The GDPR could’ve been a catalyst for this discussion, but this is a discussion worth having. The EU’s regulation dictates how you must handle the Personally Identifiable Information of its citizens. The marketing team handles a lot of this data and collects this data as well. Be it for campaigns, surveys, or even downloadable content from the websites. Everywhere that data is collected, whether it is a name or an email ID, the intent must be clearly specified. The option to opt-out of any marketing content must be specified as well. The motive is to have the power of data within the citizen and the right to control it as well—rightly so, considering today’s landscape of threat. This probes the organizations to reflect on their data strategy and cybersecurity strategy as well.

Read our blog, ‘a year since GDPR, are you compliant yet?’ to know all about it.

Considering how CMOs play a vital role in this, it is a no brainer that they indeed deserve a seat in the cybersecurity discussion.

The 5 ways CMO can make or break cybersecurity:

2015 was known as the year of data breach. In a single year, 730 data breaches occurred exposing 200 million personal records. This is a staggering amount of data on the black market for hackers to utilize. It speaks volumes on the hackers’ abilities as well as how ill-prepared organizations are to face a cyber attack.

Let’s work on changing this one aspect of your organizational network at a time, starting with getting your data right with the CMO.

1. It’s all about data

Marketing possesses the most sensitive data and deal with potential and current customers. Thus, the CMO must ensure several data best practices are followed by the team. It can be as simple as stating the privacy policy on the website, that’s a start too. A CMO must understand the importance of even nitty-gritty details. While the marketing team collects data from various downloads and surveys, they ought to specify how it can be used. They must also provide an option for opting out of any marketing material. These are requirements for GDPR compliance, but it is not limited to EU citizens. GDPR can act as an outline for how data of customers must be handled, irrespective of region.
It doesn’t end with collecting data. Once the data is collecting, they must also ensure it is handled safely. The customer data cannot just be spread across an excel worksheet and shared over email without any security measure in place. Vigilance with data sharing is critical.
The marketing team might work off-site or remotely. There must be security practices on how important data has to be sent, outside the corporate network.

2. The website clickbait: Hurry, the offer is up!

It’s not a mere marketing gimmick, it is psychology to generate curiosity among potential customers and get the deed done. To do so, marketing lingers on various websites daily. Social media websites, forums, and networking platforms, your marketing team spends an ardent amount of time on these platforms to get the word out on your services. Marketing is even given special privileges by IT to access these platforms. As they explore these websites, they must know the repercussions of setting foot on the wrong website. Websites without HTTPS://, clickbait notifications, phishing attempts, these are all very prominent on social networks. Their awareness to stray away from such attempts is crucial to your organizational security.
The CMO must ensure the IT team has is equipped to handle the team’s digital spectrum.

3. Dear customer, we got your back

We inherently live in the era of digital thieves. From breaches to credit scams, it is all happening around us. In this time of apprehension, your customers must know their data is safe with you.

Who better to covey this, other than the person who handles the data? CMOs are crucial in customer retention as well as building engagement with the customer. The key is to engage them while handling sensitive information, sensitively. The customers must be made aware, well at the beginning of how their data is handled and the policies around them.

Many times, the CMO is not well versed in the details of data security. In the era of cloud, data and its security are always under scrutiny. The CMO must know where the data is kept and handled. The pathways to it and who can access it and how. The way your CMO can answer these questions to the customer can determine how trusting they will be of your organization. Your brand impression relies on this trust.

4. Discussion between the CIO, CISO, and CMO

More often than not, CMOs don’t hear from the CIO. They are of course, not answerable to them, but this creates a distance between data collection and data handling. Every C-suite is crucial in making cybersecurity a successful philosophy in your organization. CIOs must regularly interact with the CMO as they might have insights into data from a marketing and customer perspective which the CIO might lack.

The CMO must discuss with the CIO while vetting Martech vendors. They will have insights from a data handling perspective. Third-party vendors, more often than not, end up becoming back door to your security. This can be avoided by a simple discussion on how to carry it out.

CMO must be a key participator in coming up with a possible incident plan. If ever, you are under cyberattack, the entire C-Suite must have a plan with dedicated roles of execution. With the CMO being the face of this to the media, they must know how to handle it, when to let the customers know and how to bring it under control.

5. Empower the entire marketing team

The CMO must ensure his/her team is well equipped with cybersecurity best practices and tools. Employee training is a must throughout the organization, but it is especially crucial to the marketing department. The team must also be aware of incident planning and be certain on how to react. Crisis management must be in their training from day one. You could even conduct tests to see how the team reacts to attempts of an attack. These are called Pen testers. The intention, however, must be to educate the team and understand security loopholes and not to undermine them.

The involvement of the entire C-Suite is a necessity. With different roles, you’ll get different perspectives, making your cybersecurity strategy all the more holistic. Include your CMO in your strategy and ensure your customer data and brand is always safeguarded.

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