Manufacturing today is enhanced by the benefits of our digital age. Arguably, the biggest benefit is data — it helps inform everything from project efficiency to the ongoing development of your business model. One area in which it can make a distinct impact is in your marketing; ensuring that you can always connect with the right business to business (B2B) clients, in ways they respond the most too.Particularly in the last year, these marketing methods have shifted toward remote operations. This means that many businesses have embraced cloud solutions for storing and sharing their data and marketing materials. It’s easy to understand why; cloud storage provides a space to store data and other information in a way that doesn’t take up physical server real estate in the office. It also means that files can be accessed by multiple contributors wherever they are in the world, on multiple types of devices, generally via a single app. It's an agile tool for a competitive age.
That said, for all its convenience, data sharing via the cloud is not without its risks. With our current emphasis on remote working, now is an excellent time to examine some of the key areas of cloud risk, and what cybersecurity solutions can keep your data safe.
Perhaps the most prevalent risk for remote marketers using cloud storage is a breach. There are a few imperatives here to be vigilant in prevention. Most obviously is the financial aspect. Cyberthieves are generally more likely to go after shared and stored payment information. Indeed, one of the reasons why it’s inadvisable to store your company credit card details on autofill for online checkouts is the potential for them to be illicitly accessed. Although it may be convenient for marketers to store and share payment information on the cloud, they should avoid this.
Not only will this cause the loss of valuable assets, but it also sends a negative message to your B2B clients about your ability to keep data safe. Part of your remote marketers’ role is to build relationships with potential and current customers. Even if a breach doesn’t directly involve a client’s details, it suggests that you don’t have practices in place that allow this relationship to be a safe one.
Your breach security strategy should include:
- Strong Credentials
Each marketer should have their security credentials for accessing the cloud, and these should not be shared. There should be a strategy of utilizing strong passwords and changing these frequently. Adopting a password management platform can help to support both of these.
- Selective Access and Storage
Don’t store anything on the cloud that doesn’t strictly need to be kept there; the more data you keep online, the more you risk it being leaked. Additionally, you should limit access to sensitive documents to those in the marketing department — the fewer accounts that can touch the most valuable data, the less chance there is for breaches.
One of the reasons many remote marketers choose to use the cloud is because it is considered separate from local data storage, and therefore less at risk from viruses and malware that may infect your systems. That doesn’t mean to say, though, that your cloud is immune. Your remote marketing team will all be connecting to storage platforms via apps on their devices, which are in turn connected to a network. When that network is infected, it can leave your data vulnerable.
Think of it this way: if your network is compromised in a ransomware attack, the virus will encrypt local files, and when these are automatically saved to the cloud, it will also encrypt them on the storage system. The good news is that object versioning — a system that saves previous versions of files — can help you to recover more quickly. However, this isn’t available on all cloud platforms, and recovery still requires time to undertake when versioning is available. The better solution is to ensure tight network security.
Your approach should include:
- Device Security
Manufacturing today is greatly enhanced by the internet of things (IoT) — the ecosystem of devices that can provide up-to-date data to all departments, including your remote marketers via the cloud. However, each of these devices is a potential entry point to your network for cybercriminals. Ensure that encryption protocols are turned on not just on the devices themselves, but the apps they use to communicate with the cloud.
- Employee Education
One of the most common ways for cybercriminals to gain access to systems is through lax employee behavior. Take time to regularly train your remote marketers on how risks present themselves, and how they should respond to them. Particularly with remote workers, it’s vital to show how they can use tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect to the cloud when they are working in public spaces.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
When considering risks posed to cloud platforms, the potential harm regarding distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) is often overlooked. While it is unlikely to result in breaches or infection, such attacks can cause serious disruption to your business’ activities. This is particularly important in the case of remote marketers. Digital marketing may be one of the most effective methods available to you, but if remote staff doesn’t have access to resources or data for extended periods, this can put a serious dent in operations and costs.
Your approach should include:
- Backup Resources
Don’t rely entirely on the cloud for your remote marketing resources. Arrange for backups to be stored on the local network. Put protocols in place that allow these to be shared via encrypted messaging and email services should a DDoS attack occur.
- Alternative Connections
If a DDoS attack is targeted directly at your internet service provider or your network, you should be able to switch to an alternative internet provider. This can provide your remote marketers with a different route to access cloud resources until regular service is restored.
The cloud can be one of the most valuable resources to your B2B marketers when they operate remotely. However, it’s not without its risks. By keeping vigilant for data breaches, infection vulnerabilities, and DDoS potential, you can ensure that you can both prevent problems, and maintain your competitive edge.
This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Email in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.
Guest blogger - Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.