Cybersecurity As a Marketing Activity

Can Taylan Bilgin25 Aug 2020

Cybersecurity has always been considered a technical issue. Undoubtedly it is. However, its affinity with marketing is most of the time overlooked.

Brand images are created in people’s minds and that is where they live. While marketing works to get the brand name out there or to sustain a positive image in people’s minds, cybersecurity is all about protecting that image.

Trying to build a strong brand image, companies allocate generous amounts of resources to marketing almost from day one. On the other hand, cybersecurity which aims to protect that image is mostly an afterthought for nearly all early-stage and mid-sized companies.

You would be surprised to know how little it is valued even in some giant corporations. The problem is that all that hard work, effort and time put in to build that image can take a hit with a single cybersecurity breach.

As well as the deterioration of brand image, with governments enforcing GDPR and dishing out fines to companies, the punishment of leaving out cybersecurity is now more severe and tangible than ever.

Needless to mention the leverage gained by competitors when they know your sensitive data has been leaked. In fact, making fun of the data leaks happening in competitors has been a common marketing tactic in the last few years.

Looking at the relationship between marketing and cybersecurity from a hacker’s perspective, marketing is a sign of opportunity. When a company promotes its digital products aggressively, hackers smell an opportunity knowing that marketing is rarely accompanied by the same level of cybersecurity.

That is why marketing and cybersecurity teams need to liaise with each other before kicking off marketing campaigns that drive traffic to a certain asset. Communication between these two teams is crucial to make sure there are no known vulnerabilities in the asset where increased traffic is expected.

What companies should do now is to plan how they can protect their sensitive data and implement an effective cybersecurity program from day one. Not having the financial resources is merely an excuse. With tons of open source solutions available in the market cybersecurity is no longer a matter of money but a matter of way of thinking and making it an integral part of designing anything digital.

Commercial security tools surely offer more advanced features and professional support but open source tools are great for building processes and planting the seeds of a healthy security culture without any cost. Without that culture and processes in place, investment in commercial security tools is always a risky one.

Strategically, it makes no sense to put so many dollars in trying to build a thing and zero effort in defending it. Retaining happy customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones and losing customers for not caring about cybersecurity and then spending a lot of money to win them back is pointless.

Striking a balance between offense and defense is key to success in any team sport and building a strong brand image that also requires a lot of teamwork is no different. The following sports quotes are perfect analogies to justify the effort on cybersecurity; “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.” and “The best offense is a good defense.”

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