Technical SEO Consultant

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We’re only half way through 2017 and we’ve witnessed a number of trends and fads, from fidget spinners, the dab, and the increasing rise of household voice activated devices such as Google Home, Echo, and the in-development Vega.

This has led to a lot of marketing agencies jumping onto the bandwagon that is artificial intelligence, voice search and the virtual experience economy.

While these are all valid aspects of the ever growing marketing mix, it’s the shadow that this mountain of marketing that we should be focusing on.

As all of these digital experiences begin to add up, and as virtual reality, augmented reality and voice search become paramount in our lives, these artificial digital experiences will soon begin to carry the same weight with consumers as real experiences.

How many people will remember forever seeing Tupac’s hologram at Coachella in 2012? Or how many people will purchase tickets for the 2018 digital/virtual reality tour being undertaken by ABBA?

Your data is the weapon and currency of cyber attackers.

Augmented reality is already mainstream, SnapChat filters and Pokemon Go to name but a couple of examples. Businesses are also utilising AR to improve the customer journey, when I bought my sofa I used my iPad to visualise it in my living room first.

This new lifestyle also means we’re vastly increasing the amount of data we are all generating, from our smartphones to our smart kettles.

As a number of high profile cyber-attacks have proved in the past couple of years, data is the cyber terrorist’s currency, weapon and bargaining chip.

While it’s great looking at all these wonderful fads and focusing on the shiny stuff, we should be focusing on keeping our clients, and their customers safe.

We face new security challenges

Smartphones can get stolen and hacked. USB sticks can become lost and often aren’t password protected, email accounts can get brute-forced, WiFi networks get tapped, users get phished, systems get exploited and become held by ransomware — the threats are seemingly endless.

So how do you protect yourself, your clients and your customers? Encryption.

Encryption Is your last line of defence, it’s the only thing that can and will protect your data when all else fails.

Encryption isn’t a new concept; it’s been a staple of the war room for centuries as militia sent encoded messages in-case they were intercepted by the enemy. When you encrypt your data, only someone holding a de-encryption method or key can de-code it.

What do you need to encrypt?

Cyber security and data encryption isn’t talked about in the same loud voices as artificial intelligence, voice search and AR/VR because it’s a lot harder to a) understand and b) explain the need.

With a marketing activity, you can measure the effectiveness of a virtual reality campaign, how many times it’s used or number of times it’s been downloaded, but security you can’t, as it doesn’t translate as well to the modern world as it’s more complicated than simply locking the front door.

Knowing what you need to encrypt is key.

Encrypt your emails

Email is a staple of our modern lives, it’s how we receive bills, bank statements, car insurance documents and of course, password resets.

If someone gained access to your email account, what else could they gain access to?

To protect your emails, you should use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), this tool adds a layer of basic encryption to your emails and generates both a public and private encryption key.

You publish the public key for people to use, but you keep the private key to yourself.

This means that even the owner of the server and your email hosting provider won’t even be able to read them without the key, or crack your encryption code.

Encrypt your cloud based files

The same threats and vulnerabilities for your emails also apply to the files you store on the cloud, including the ones you store on Google Drive or Dropbox.

Clouds can be hacked, and data/files accessed.

The most basic choice is to protect your files with a compression tool that supports encryption and password protection features, like zip, before storing them in your cloud server.

Going https isn’t enough

There is a lot of misconception over whether migrating a website to https is enough to make it secure, but this isn’t the case.

There are a number of vulnerabilities a website can have, no matter how fantastic its development has been and https is only a small part of the cyber security mix.

That being said, if you’re not serving your website via Https now, you should be.

I’ve written before about Google potentially shifting part of its focus to how secure a website is, even more so than https, but also through passive scanning for OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities.

Threats go beyond emails and basic technologies.

Final thoughts

In 1893 the Daimler Motor Syndicate was formed, and soon after the Dailmer shooting brake 6hp, 1526 cc engine automobile was being sold in the UK.

It then took 90-years of automobiles in the United Kingdom before seatbelts became enforced under law.

This is a situation we need to avoid with our online lives.

We can’t wait around for laws, such as the new GDPR regulations in May 2018, to come into force, as the risks and costs are a lot higher.

As marketing teams and webmasters, we need to stop thinking about how our actions can increase customers, but take time to understand how we can secure our online assets and protect not only our customers but also our proprietary data.

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