Big Data and Security: Avoiding the Big Hack


Some of the largest and most respected companies in the world have become the victims of hacking and service denial attacks. Before Sony was in hackers’ cross-hairs, Target was under assault, and hackers stole personal information belonging to thousands of customers. These high-profile incidents make potential clients understandably edgy about sharing their information freely, yet big data applications such as marketing automation software rely on steady streams of information. Here’s how to protect your data and keep your information from winding up in the wrong hands.

Secure Your Network

One of the greatest dangers to your prospects’ data security isn’t a dedicated hacking attempt but a simple crime of opportunity. It’s a lost notebook computer without password protection, a smartphone with access to sensitive files, a home computer on an unsecured network that can give the wrong people access to sensitive information. Entrust your data to a company that’s equipped to handle it with a VPN, or virtual private network,  and the right training to keep employees in the know about proper security procedures.

Ask for the Right Information

When you sign into your online banking app or type your password into a favorite website, you have reasonable expectations of security. The data elements that drive your marketing automation system aren’t as sensitive as bank account numbers or passwords, but you’re still collecting information that can open a window on your customers’ lives. Giving your website visitors and newsletter subscribers a range of opt-in and opt-down possibilities lets them choose the amount of data they’re comfortable sharing.

Collect Anonymous Information

While your marketing automation system collects plenty of data about individual prospects to build a better image of each customer, it also gathers aggregate data to use for big-picture analytics. Anonymous browser cookies that track where IP addresses are located without attaching them to a name give you valuable insights into where your customers come from, how they found you, where they’re located and how they interact with your site but don’t create data trails a thief could use to target your clients. By using anonymous data points to generate a clearer picture of your customer base as a whole, you learn about them without risk.

Share Transparently

Your customers’ data is valuable, and you might decide to share it with others or gain access to outside lists. Informing the people in your database about where their data is going is critical, especially in some sectors such as health care, finance and law. Your privacy policy should clearly outline who has your customers’ data and update whenever those details change. A well-crafted privacy policy helps protect your prospects’ data by creating an information trail. Choosing a trusted third-party list management company also preserves your customers’ data security.

To cautious clients, the frequency of high-profile hacks is enough to make them nervous about sharing their data. Reassure them with a sound data collection process, transparent privacy policies and software that builds in better security with anonymous information collection.

© Reach Marketing LLC 2015 All Rights Reserved.

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