Cybersecurity: Marketers Need to Defend Big Data

September 5, 2013

Information security is not just a concern for IT departments, says Steve Perkins, SVP-marketing and solutions at security firm Accuvant. The rise of Big Data demands that marketers become stewards of customer information and corporate assets. He offered BMA Buzz a preview of his Sept. 24 SoCal BMA presentation “Information Security Risk for Business Leaders and Marketing Execs.”

BMA Buzz: How have security risks evolved in the B2B space?

Steve Perkins: First, it’s important to understand the magnitude of the problem. Cybersecurity has become a massive issue for nearly every business and for government. It used to be about a few people trying to steal credit cards. Now there is a wide range of formal actors: random crime, organized crime, activists, terrorists, nation states and every variant in between.

As society has moved to have everything connected and automated, we also have made everything subject to attack. The targets are trade secrets and intellectual property, client and customer information, the corruption and control of critical infrastructure and the disruption of operations altogether.

Attacks can target individual businesses, organizations and infrastructure. There are multi-phase, persistent attacks that may take years to develop. And the sheer volume of attacks has increased.

We see incredible risk and a huge shift in the exposure of nearly every organization. This will have sweeping implications on how we use technology and connect with each other. 

BMA Buzz: What does this mean for marketers?

Perkins: There are two primary considerations. First, defensively, is to understand that Big Data, along with go-to-market plans and secrets, represent a primary target for the bad guys.

The second issue, offensively, is to understand what this means. Methods will be implemented to inhibit us from connecting, profiling and reaching prospects and clients. This will apply to all new communication methods, such as social or personal targeting. These new channels represent the same vectors now being used by attackers. They will be sealed by IT departments.

Marketers have a call to be relevant and personal, but not invasive or overly assumptive in our tactics. Opt-in and relevance at the point of research, as well as trust development and referral marketing in B2B will become critical to cut through filters and blocks.

BMA Buzz: How common is it to see companies with the proper safeguards in place?

Perkins: Most companies are not well protected. Many don’t understand the magnitude of the problem. Security teams are underfunded and under-empowered.

Security often is at odds with technology initiatives that drive results. Many organizations view security as either an insurance policy with a cost, or simply as an inhibitor to agile business.

The reality is that few organizations can afford to be totally secured. The threats are so diverse today that they can’t. Yet they are chasing a path to secure everything through a progression of infrastructure-based, compliance-based, and threat-based strategies. 

The practical approach involves a data- and infrastructure-centric and risk-based approach in which one looks at assets, assigns values, and applies resources to protect highest- to lowest-valued assets accordingly. Few organizations are doing this.

BMA Buzz: What steps can marketers play in the overall solution?

Perkins: We need to understand the problem and get in the game. It is incumbent upon us, the keepers of valuable information, to be advocates and custodians for its protection.

We can do three things: Learn about and watch the problem, staying abreast of the cybersecurity space. Drive requirements with IT, demanding protection of our systems and data. And lastly, help IT and security teams advocate for appropriate budgets and authority. They need our help.

These steps can make a world of difference in changing the culture and security posture of an organization and also for our own marketing operations.


"Cybersecurity: Marketers Need to Defend Big Data." BMA Buzz. 9/5/13.