3 Unexpected Data Security Risks Every Marketer Needs To Know About

David Blaszkowsky, head of strategy and development at Helios Data.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by David Blaszkowsky, head of strategy and development at Helios Data.

Are your advertising data practices safe? Are you sure? For most marketers, brands and agencies, the answer is … maybe.

The reality is most marketers overlook three important data security loopholes that can have real consequences, including steep fines. 

Knowing which partners and platforms have access to your data – and how they’re using it – isn’t always obvious. But understanding what makes you vulnerable is half the battle. Here are the three hidden data risks every marketer needs to know – and what you can do about them.

Banking on trust 

You have access to first-party data for your campaign, and first-party data is gold. But as soon as a third party touches it, there needs to be a trail – and guardrails for any analysis that happens. You want to be sure the right people are touching the right data at the right time and that everyone else is out of the picture. 

If you don’t know for sure, you’re relying on trust – and we live in a zero-trust world. That’s why you need Zero Trust technologies.

Zero Trust technologies can validate security with perfect confidence. These tools look for a fingerprint in code before any data work takes place. Data security for all marketing efforts should have Zero Trust authentication.

Sharing too much data 

When you’re dealing with first-party data, you need absolute certainty that partners are only using the data you’ve provided access to.

In most cases, companies collect lots of data and turn over an entire database. Instead, just turn over the data the partner needs, period. You also need to understand what happens to the data throughout the entire analytics process.

For example, what if an agency data scientist wants to try cross-indexing or sorting on a column in the database? That might seem fine, but what if sensitive data like social security or credit card numbers suddenly end up on the dark web? It can happen. It’s your responsibility to make sure it doesn’t.

Irresponsible informal use

Data scientists get creative with data sets all the time. Without the right controls in place, things can get messy. Imagine someone at a bank saying, “I’m just going to move this money to John’s account for a few days because I did something wrong and need to cover it. I’ll move it back to Susan’s account later. No one will know.” Wrong. That’s how companies end up in lawsuits and on the nightly news.

What you need is full confidence that only the data you’ve made accessible will be used, even for informal analysis. Setting up controls is an extra step for the data analysts, but it’s also essential protection. It brings more discipline and accountability to the process.

Reducing data risks

There are relatively simple solutions for all three of these risks once you’re aware of them. Machine learning can fingerprint computation programs so only authorized software can operate. Trust-enabling programs called “confidential compute” can keep data processing safe. And new controlling and processing surveillance like digital contracts can control and enforce what data can be used by which partners – and stop misuse in real time.

When these systems are in place, you can feel good about your advertising data practices and worry less about malicious actors. 

Follow Helios Data (@helios_data) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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