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Image(The Tech Journal, 2012)

Here we go again. Some consumers are still smarting from the exposure of their personal data as a result of security lapses at Target and Neiman Marcus. Thought unnamed, authorities specializing in pursuing cyber criminals have identified at least six other stores that may have been hacked by the same malware, known as BlackPOS, that affected the aforementioned big two.

Now comes news from this past week that another internet bug has been creeping around our devices, popular social networking websites, and the servers of some of the biggest tech firms in the world, perhaps for years before being caught. The Heartbleed bug may not be as high profile or as obviously malicious as BlackPOS but upon closer inspection, it could be just as damaging, depending on how close contact a business was with it. Reports are that data thieves could use the bug to steal bits of encrypted phone conversations or profile information. And this can prove to be just as problematic in the long run. Take Mat Honan’s story, senior writer from Wired magazine. As we become more entwined with our digital selves, like a jigsaw pieces, every identified piece of information can give clues to what the rest of the puzzle looks like. That can be bad news for all of us.

And again, since we are marketing guys, this can be really really bad news for companies who rely on customer data collection not for competitive advantage but for competitive relevancy. If a business can’t get at its target markets today, through the channels the customers frequent, and in the most efficient way possible, (often through digital means) that business has no chance at survival. Well, never say never but would we ever love to see a company be successful without doing it.

So what can marketers do? How can they market company products and services while also marketing company security, especially when marketing has very little control over whether company systems are safe and protected from hackers?

We get the sense this broader conversation and the ways companies do business in today’s marketplace is about to really heat up.