Another day, another data breach

Or so it seems. But the most recent data breach hits close to home with marketers, as it should, because a popular marketing analytics tool recently left persona information for 123 million people completely exposed. Fortunately, there was no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) included with the data, although any hacker with half a brain and internet access could backtrack the information and identify the person.

That being said, there’s still a huge issue that all marketers need to start dealing with NOW - that the spotlight for data breaches has been pointed squarely to you, and all the lists and customer data you deal with on a day-to-day basis needs to be secured. And quickly.

The data breach details:

The company at fault in this instance is Alteryx - a marketing analytics tool that helps marketers analyze their data without the need of an analytics department. That being said, you still have to know what you’re doing in order to use the tool properly, i.e. splitting lists and running attribution models. With all that power, it’s no wonder marketers are flocking to it like the holy grail.

It also makes sense that Alteryx would want to provide more capabilities to their customers, which in this case is an add-on that supplements customer data with demographic data (provided by Experian). No more buying persona/demographic data directly from the data companies for exorbitant sums of money. Instead, Alteryx buys the data and passes along the price to the marketers. (Which are still pretty pricey.)

The problem was that Alteryx stored all this demographic data in an unsecured database on Amazon Web Services, which could be accessed simply by looking for it. Whoops! Again, there was no PII included with the data, but knowing the value of the data (probably in the hundreds of millions), it would behoove any hacker to take the data and try to sell it. Especially if they could match up the demographic details to a person using voting records or other behavioral data.

Why it matters to marketers:

This data breach pulls back the curtain on activities around marketing, specifically the data management of personal customer details. Now hackers, as well as clients, know there is valuable data being passed around without attention to security.

Ask yourself: How many times have I sent a list of prospects to another associate via email? How secure is my internal database that houses client customer data?

These are the questions we as marketers need to address, and immediately find solutions to all of the unsecured data we are passing around on a daily basis.