When we set out on our mission in 2020 to become a leading predictive marketing communications firm, we knew we needed greater access to client data and an expert data team to manage, analyze and offer our clients an entirely new level of truly data-powered communications.
Now, we of course had to put our money where our mouth is as there’s a ton of lip service to ‘data intelligence’ in agencyland. Crunching data is one thing, protecting data and the people and businesses connected to said data is another. At Hahn, it’s our newly adopted belief that businesses that rely on the services of a marketing agency must ensure that the agency is SOC 2 compliant. And why? Because the security and privacy of customer data is paramount, and our agency, really any agency for that matter, must demonstrate the necessary controls are in place to protect data.
What the Heck is SOC 2? (Service Organization Control Type 2)
The SOC 2 framework was created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and is designed to provide assurance regarding the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy of customer information. It sets out a series of standards, procedures and guidelines that must be followed by organizations that handle customer data. Organizations that are SOC 2 compliant can provide their customers with the assurance their data is secure and private. This is done by ensuring the organization has the necessary controls and processes in place to protect customer data from unauthorized access, disclosure or destruction. It also ensures the organization has the necessary measures in place to detect and respond to any potential security incidents.
Reasons Marketing Agencies Should Care About Cybersecurity
Marketing agencies are especially vulnerable to security risks due to the vast amounts of customer data they handle. But not only that, agencies are known for flexible, bring-your-own-device environments,remote worker policies and higher employee turnover, which has long plagued agencies. With turnover comes an often-overlooked threat – data theft. Too often, agencies are early adopters of technology, many of which are reliant on cloud services (Box, Dropbox, Office365, Slack, G-Suite, etc.); cloud apps can be highly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Putting our own data access under the microscope, at Hahn, we handle client customer data, sales performance data, audience segmentation information, and have access to numerous martech logins, portals and other entry points where secure data lives – all of these forms of data are often sensitive and could be used to commit identity theft or other frauds. As such, it is essential marketing agencies demonstrate they have the necessary security controls in place to protect customer data. Furthermore, it is important for marketing agencies to be compliant with the SOC 2 framework in order to demonstrate their commitment to customer privacy. The framework requires organizations to have a comprehensive privacy program in place that outlines how customer data is used, stored and shared. This ensures customer data is handled in a secure and responsible manner, and customers are aware of how their data is being used.
Our First Step to SOC 2 – Silent Quadrant Cybersecurity Framework Certification
Before diving headfirst into the complex world of SOC 2 assurance, we decided to lay a solid foundation by first pursuing the Silent Quadrant Cybersecurity Framework Certification. This comprehensive and practical approach to cybersecurity allowed us to evaluate our organization’s resilience by assessing seven key areas: visibility and control, vulnerability and remediation, backup and protection, incident response and training, third party management, digital acumen and cybersecurity culture.
By obtaining the Silent Quadrant Cybersecurity Framework Certification, we have demonstrated our commitment to not only embracing data-driven marketing strategies but also ensuring our clients’ sensitive data is protected from potential threats. The framework’s unique emphasis on both culture and digital acumen has empowered our team to foster a security-first mindset and continuously seek opportunities to improve our cybersecurity posture. This commitment to our clients’ data protection not only aligns with our pursuit of SOC 2 assurance but also serves as a testament to our dedication to being a trustworthy and reliable partner in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Taking this first step with Silent Quadrant has equipped us with the necessary insights and tools to tackle the challenges associated with achieving SOC 2 assurance. As we embark on this journey, we remain steadfast in our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of data security and privacy. Our proactive approach in prioritizing cybersecurity demonstrates our unwavering commitment to providing our clients with the best possible service and instilling confidence that their valuable data is in safe hands with us.
Security as an Agency Differentiator into the Future
Finally, we believe SOC 2 compliant along with our current Silent Quadrant Cybersecurity Framework Certification are powerful differentiators for us as a predictive marketing communications agency. Being SOC 2 compliant will help us build even greater client trust and foster deeper credibility in the industries we serve – energy and food and nutrition and beverage categories. Day in and day out, our clients are increasingly aware of the importance of data privacy and security, and a SOC 2 compliant organization is more likely to be seen as a responsible agency partner of choice. As for new business development, this will help to attract new customers while at the same time increase existing client loyalty. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’re creating a cyber-aware culture, tune into our One Club Morning Buzz episode.