September 28, 2023 ↘︎

With an overkill of tools in most tech stacks, how can you prevent data leakage?

The risk is real and the only thing that will change when privacy laws are implemented is the addition of a hefty fine for inaction now.

According to Gartner, in 2022, CMOs allocated a quarter of their marketing expense budgets to marketing technologies. And reports suggest the average enterprise uses 91 different tools in their stack. 

With few single platforms offering businesses the ability to do everything, multiple tools in the stack are inevitable but playing the field is leaving businesses at risk of data leakage.

Speaking to Digital Balance clients, Adam Hobson, CEO of web analytics and media tagging quality assurance tool DataTrue, said, “Our clients will work with 30 to 90 different technologies, on average. However, there are around 3,800 APIs alone in the marketplace, according to the IAB. So ensuring compliance and governance and data leakage prevention across all those is hard. It’s difficult.”

Hobson reckons companies are only as safe as the tech vendors that they work with. But in the case of a data leak, the onus won’t be on the tech vendors to deal with the fallout. 

“When we talk about data leakage and privacy compliance, we’re not only talking about clients and the reputation of your business. We’re also talking about staff,salary details addresses and all that personal information that cannot be leaked,” said Hobson.

He cited the example of the catastrophic data leak in Northern Ireland in August that revealed the identities and duties of every officer and civilian employee in the force.

The challenge extends beyond the marketing department but with this segment of the market still in its early stages, the ownership of data privacy can be a grey area. Often it is a shared responsibility across departments and functions.  

And when it comes to who is actually responsible for a complete inventory of the martech setup, plenty of companies don’t have someone specifically in charge.

Gartner is forecasting that 75 per cent of the world is going to have data protection laws in the next 12 months and Australia is certainly on track for this. But Hobson says, from a data privacy perspective, we’re probably five years behind Europeand a few years behind North America.

Customers trust organisations to protect their personal information, but if that trust is eroded, it’s 10 times more expensive to win them back.

So what can you do to ensure your tech stack is best placed to limit the risk and expense of a data leak.

When it comes to choosing vendors, Hobson said: “Make sure you’re only working with the more reputable ones that are well-known in the marketplace.”

And when you do choose a vendor, forget about handshake agreements. Hobson said: “It’s not so much just trusting others but making sure that they are demonstrating compliance with what you’ve agreed to.”

Find out where your data is being stored. If you’re an Australian company doing business in Australia, you’ll want it to sit within Australia. Data privacy laws in other regions penalise businesses that store data overseas, even in cases where a third party has been handling the data on their behalf.

Now is the time to designate someone within your organisation who is responsible for auditing and managing your tech stack. Don’t make it a shared responsibility or leave it up to chance. There is too much at stake.

You’ll also want to put the processes in place to review your tag management system. A regular check of your tag hierarchy will ensure you can see exactly who is accessing data, why they are accessing it and where it’s being shared.

If your organisation has a technology stack, don’t put this off. The risk is real and the only thing that will change when privacy laws are implemented is the addition of a hefty fine for inaction now.

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