The WannaCry Ransomware, a Wake-Up Call for Marketers

 -cybersecurity and marketing

Late last week, the WannaCry ransomware, computer malware, spread across 150 countries with hundreds of thousands of computers being affected. The ransomware took over users’ files demanding $300 (£230) to restore access.

Computer giant Microsoft said the attack should serve as a wake-up call for businesses all over the world.

Time for Marketers to Wake Up

Research conducted by IBM towards the end of last year, indicate that among global boardrooms in 28 countries identified the need for better cybersecurity as their top technology priority in 2017 and beyond.

Interestingly, while CMOs are seen as “key drivers of digital-based growth for most organizations, many are not in the habit of working with the CIO, and are certainly not in the habit of working with the security department.”

CMOs have been reluctant to get involved with cybersecurity decisions.

With the latest ransomware attack, it has become clear that all functions of the business, in particular, marketing with its digital nature, must sit up and take note.

Marketing and Cybersecurity

Marketers should use cybersecurity in three ways; as a source of Data Protection, as a Branding tool, and finally, as a tool for Customer Services.


Marketers are data junkies. Cybersecurity prevents data breaches. Both are equally concerned with data.

Technology professionals are becoming increasingly concerned with the Internet of Things or (IoT). Internet-connected devices are easily hackable and their been several instances of these devices falling victim to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. With IoT being hailed as one of the next big trends in marketing, it is vital that marketers work with IT and cyber security professionals to create solutions that will help the creation of secure connected devices in the future.


Hacks are embarrassing. Companies with effective cybersecurity policies can avoid negative press by protecting themselves.

Marketers should see cybersecurity as a branding tool. In fact, one of the keys to creating a successful online business in 2016 was to show people your site is secure and trustworthy.” As a result, marketers have a uniquely powerful brand-building opportunity. By leveraging online security measures, brands can increase trust with shoppers, which will leader to increased revenue.

To improve online security and shopper interaction, brands must employ a holistic approach. This will start by informing customers about actions taken to ensure security.

“According to research by PSFK Lab in partnership with MasterCard, 95% of consumers expect their bank to have the latest technologies to keep their financial information safe and secure; 89% expect stores they shop at to stay up to date with the latest financial safety technologies; 88% trust that their payment network is arming them with new, secure technologies that protect them from fraud; and 83% are excited for the emergence of new technologies that will help secure and protect their financial information.” – Good Cybersecurity Can Be Good Marketing, HBR. 

Customer Service

Online security and customer service go hand in hand. Consumers have indicated that for the promise of increased security, they’re happy to adopt new payment technology that is perhaps not as time-saving as others. Two-thirds of eeCommerceshoppers are also willing to modify their own online behavior in favor of safer shopping experience.

I recently read an article by Ilan Amit, published on Penguin Strategies, about the future of cybersecurity. He noted,

“Cybersecurity marketing is also going to involve some reframing of what cybersecurity actually is.”

Historically, cyber security has been described and limited to a form of crime prevention. Although this is an important focus, several experts are predicting that cybersecurity companies will be working to reframe their products to be sold as a form of customer service.

This may strike you as odd. Security breaches impact the customer. Not only will companies utilizing cybersecurity be able to avoid the negative PR associated with a hack, they’ll be able to set themselves apart from their competitors.

The consumer is becoming increasingly concerned with data protection. Truly customer-centric businesses will answer this growing demand for security with comprehensive cybersecurity policies.

Future of Cybersecurity

Reports of new hacks are becoming more frequent. The need for cybersecurity grows daily.

Security marketing trends will shape the future of this industry.

There are many ways to ensure that your company is using cybersecurity to effectively market. Most importantly, you need to ensure that consumers are informed about the security procedures in place. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Message around security system updates, often with a link to details
  • Visual identifier, an icon, image or even a picture of the latest security device employed by your company
  • Publicizing your partnership with a leading security organization and placing its logo prominently on your site
  • Additional authentication steps at any point where data is entered onto your site

Marketers have been identifying potential customers by more than just their demographics for some time. For the more security-aware consumer, knowledge of their historical behavior, devices used, and places visited are proving marketers with even more data to which they can provide unique personalized experience. We can also use this data to accurately verify the user’s identity. Better recognition can lead to a better experience. This will result in existing customers becoming more loyal, increasing referrals.

A 100% secure system may not yet attainable. With each new attempt to secure a system, another new scheme comes along that leverages a different vulnerability. A company’s ability to identify and adapt to threats, without adversely affecting the customer experience is likely to dictate its future success.

Cybersecurity offers you increased sales and reduced security liabilities. Marketers need to see this for the data, branding, and customer loyalty opportunity that it is.


Digital Marketing Transformation AssemblyThe Millennium Alliance is pleased to announce that application for the Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly is now open. Taking place on October 19-20, 2017 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, UT, this program has been designed to offer you insight into the latest digital marketing trends including artificial intelligence, omnichannel strategy, cognitive marketing, personalization, MarTech, the data revolution and more.

The Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly will bring together North America’s most prominent digital marketing technology and business leaders from all major consumer-driven industries.

2017 is set to take us one step closer to a “Digital Industrial Revolution”. With consumer behavior changing once again, due to the rise of individualism and the desire for greater privacy and security, CEOs, CMOs, and CDOs around the world are anticipating the need for more personalized, targeted marketing in a world where our consumption of adverts and commercials is decreasing. Finding new ways to engage on a 1-2-1 level with consumers is becoming increasingly important. The rise of ChatBots and messenger apps like Snapchat is evidence of this.

A series of executive education roundtables, keynote presentations, collaborative think tanks, educational workshops, and networking sessions will offer industry-specific topics and trends to ensure your company sustains its competitive advantage and learns about the next big trend before it hits.

This is not just another “Digital Marketing” event. Spaces are reserved for the best in the business. If you’re a CMO looking to stay one step ahead of the digital world, reserve your seat today!



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