3 key takeaways on Data Breaches and trends for 2019:
1) Data breaches will accelerate and follow broader industry shifts.
It’s unlikely that we’ve seen the end or even the peak of data breach activity in the U.S. or abroad. Even as standards and security improve, we will see those with malicious intent always trying to one-up companies’ efforts to secure their data.
The nature of data breaches will evolve right alongside the marketing industry in terms of technology and points of breach. This means that we’re going to see a growing threat within the mobile and cross-device spaces. As marketers strive to connect their campaign and communication efforts across a consumer’s myriad of devices, each data handoff represents a new point of potential breach and, thus, a new point of interest for those seeking ill-gotten access to consumer data.
In an effort to capture more behavioral data from their mobile sites and apps, marketers are opening these platforms up to a host of new vendors. While these relationships are important, they also introduce new vulnerabilities to a company’s marketing security. In addition to ensuring the proper security technology is protecting their websites, marketing executives must extend their vigilance to their mobile site and apps as well.
2) Bad actors will be drawn to signs of weakness.
There’s no crystal ball that allows us to see which companies will fall victim to breaches in 2019. Data leakage and breaches are a real possibility for any organization that collects consumer information, particularly through digital platforms. Hackers do not discriminate based on industry or even company size. However, in seeking to understand which organizations are most vulnerable, there are two particularly attractive characteristics that bad actors seek: 1) companies that represent high-dollar transactions or consumers and 2) companies whose digital platforms are built on outdated technology.
When it comes to data breaches, ignorance is an executive’s worst enemy. It doesn’t take long for a passable hacker to identify the shortfalls of a digital platform, particularly one where executives have not demanded rigorous marketing security protocols and systems be implemented. The companies that avoid breaches this year will be the ones where executives instill (and fund) a culture of prevention.
3) Regulators will step in on behalf of consumers.
Yes, consumers have hit a point of data breach fatigue, and that’s understandable. It’s also understandable that they feel powerless in the face of all of these compromises of their personal data. There is, in fact, very little they can do to protect their own information, short of withdrawing from digital engagements altogether.
The responsibility to protect consumer data sits with companies and their executives. But you can bet that we’re going to see more and more regulators stepping in on behalf of consumers. It’s happened in Europe with GDPR, it’s happening in California with the California Consumer Privacy Act. But that’s really just the beginning.
That said, executives can’t take a reactive stance on data and marketing security. Yes, regulations will force improvements in protocols and systems, but companies need to be out in front of these regulations. They need to embrace best practices in marketing security not because a government body mandates it, but because it’s what good business and good consumer relationships require.
The fallout of a data breach isn’t limited to regulatory fines and class-actions lawsuits. These incidents often trigger a shift in company management that can paralyze organizations from an innovation and communications standpoint. When a company’s lawyers start calling the shots, it becomes virtually impossible for companies to move fast enough to keep up with consumer behaviors. The damage done by these culture shifts occurs over the long term and can ultimately unseat a company in its competitive landscape.
2019 will be a make-or-break year when it comes to marketing security within companies. Executives will either get serious about prevention—or they (and their organizations) will be paralyzed by their inaction. The companies that embrace a proactive approach to protecting consumer data—ahead of the regulations that will force such protections—will be the ones that remain nimble and able to compete most effectively over the long haul.