An artist is seated on a stool, painting a picture of flowers.

Safe Innovation: Balancing Creativity And Cyber Security

There is a case to be made that organisations and institutions worldwide cannot harness true creativity due to the emerging threat landscape.

With business transactions and marketing campaigns conducted predominantly in the digital terrain these days, creativity and individuality stand tall as elements of a memorable and engaging brand identity. However, as companies start to embrace developing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) and so on, they also face heightened security risks. The recent attack on the UK Ministry of Defence has pinpointed glaring holes in seemingly the most protected and robust systems. If the MoD can be on the receiving end of a series of cyber attacks, what does that say about the future of organisations with fewer resources, funding, and infrastructure?

Emerging threat intelligence (aggregated by the World Economic Forum) suggests that sophisticated cyber attacks could jeopardise our creative liberties, with sophisticated AI, advanced phishing, deepfakes, and ransomware all predicted to be more ferocious, covert, and implicating for organisations that don’t exercise hyper-vigilance. However, while this outlook seems bleak on paper, it’s vital to remember that tightening security does not have to come at a cost to your business’s creative freedom.

A less-discussed challenge exists in how organisations strike the right balance between cultivating a creative persona and embracing all that has to offer while maintaining a stable, secure, and robust cyber security posture. It all boils down to leveraging the right tools, resources, and solutions to maximise creative output and minimise threat exposure. This article explores how to achieve the optimal balance where cyber threats can be mitigated while reaping all the benefits of innovation and creative thought leadership.

The Importance of Creativity in the Digital Space

Most organisations outside of the public sector can harness creative tools, products, and assets to create a strong and visually appealing brand identity to set themselves apart from their competitors and strike a memorable first impression with their prospects. 

Using a variety of digital channels across the web, email, and social media, a brand’s identity can be encapsulated using a series of high-quality visuals such as infographics, candid photos, short-form explainer videos and immersive and interactive content. All of these creative assets can communicate a brand’s offerings and values and resonate with its target audience’s pain points. 

For budget-conscious businesses, obtaining high-quality assets and stamping them with your creative narrative doesn’t have to cost the earth. From finding quality compact travel cameras to capture scenic or product imagery, to uploading videos across digital channels, establishing a creative baseline can be done on a healthy budget.

We live in an era where consumers are prone to ‘information overload’, which is why creativity is vital for capturing and retaining their ever-dwindling attention spans. Marketing campaigns need to be personalised, innovative, interactive, and thought-provoking, and ticking all of these boxes can help brands ‌foster deeper connections. 

By encouraging broader creative thinking internally among C-suite executives, stakeholders, and marketers, organisations can identify ‌bespoke approaches to overcoming creative challenges and gain that all-important competitive edge in their marketplaces.

Cyber Security Risks Accompanying Digital Creativity

While digital marketing creativity offers numerous benefits, it also introduces – bilaterally – potential cyber security risks that organisations should pay close attention to and address proactively. 

For starters, social media accounts are highly prone to phishing and social engineering attacks. It’s believed that LinkedIn phishing messages account for 47% of all social media phishing attempts, which only puts the statistic that nearly 8% of all social media cyber attacks are through phishing into context. 

More marketers are leveraging generative AI tools like ChatGPT to streamline social media content creation. AI is also having a growing influence on automated security defences, meaning it’s not uncommon to see organisations deploying AI-led solutions as far as threat containment and incident response go. Failing to exercise human oversight and supervision of all AI-led activities poses a risk of ‘hallucinations’ creeping through the proverbial woodwork, which can have profound implications on businesses if these are left to propagate.

Social media platforms are also highly prone to exploitation by malicious actors. Weak passwords with no authentication layers, coupled with an all-around inadequate security posture can leave accounts and logins increasingly vulnerable to compromise. The recent high-profile data breach on the Meta servers (the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – all effective marketing channels in their own right) has proven just how volatile the overarching infrastructure is, not to mention the pervasive gaps in cyber security knowledge of account holders. 

Investing significant resources into creating high-quality visuals, videos, and digital assets is widely touted as a positive method of seeing a tangible return on investment (ROI). However, without proper safeguards and underlying security measures, intellectual property or sensitive information unknowingly captured in assets can be seized, making their retrieval costly, cumbersome, and dangerous. Highly regulated businesses – such as those in the financial or healthcare sectors – may also be liable for regulatory fines under the GDPR if personally identifiable information (PII) is compromised without customers’ prior consent. Furthermore, this can damage trust and faith in your brand that your creative assets may have worked hard to achieve. 

Striking the Right Balance: Strategies for Safe Innovation

Achieving an ideal balance between flexing creative juices and maintaining proper cyber hygiene is evidently the way forward. Organisations must maintain a multi-faceted approach involving a healthy blend of technical measures, employee training, strategic planning, and manual oversight while allowing creativity to proliferate.

Implementing robust access control for all shared digital resources is a no-brainer. Ensuring that all logins for digital channels are distributed to relevant personnel based on the principle of least privilege will be a crucial first step. Only allocate access to those who require it, ensuring that logins are unique and not repeated across your organisation’s estate. Deploying strong password policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA) will only bolster this method, which reportedly prevents an overwhelming 98% of cyber-attacks when initiated in the financial sector, one where creativity is encouraged among businesses despite the industry’s high regulation.

Establish clear processes and guidelines for digital content creation, distribution, and asset management. Collaboration between creative teams, IT professionals and cyber security personnel should be encouraged to achieve collective alignment and so that risks can be proactively identified. Backup systems should be regularly tested and validated to safeguard high-value creative work, with off-site and on-site servers protected with enterprise-grade security to hold sensitive information. 

Encourage a mindset of responsibility and accountability when leveraging new tools and solutions to augment asset creation. New technologies will continue to emerge that make image, text, and video generation easier, which will mark a tremendous milestone in the industry’s broader move into the ‘AI age’. However, exercising careful oversight, consideration, and supervision over all assets – whether aided entirely or partially by AI – will remain pivotal. It’s important to remember that no matter how convincing AI-generated content can be, no algorithm can match up to the human experience, contextual knowledge, and perspective. 

Embracing Innovation While Prioritising Security

Creativity and cyber security will remain prolific business priorities in the years to come as the marketplace continues to evolve with the times. However, keeping abreast of all emerging cyber threat trends and practices will help businesses exponentially as they continue to navigate rocky waters. Cultivating a culture of cyber awareness and deploying training will also help your team become more clued into security best practices without them affecting their creative ideation.

Phishing Tackle’s real-world phishing simulation software and security awareness training programmes are some of the most immersive and insightful for businesses trying to avoid falling victim to this vehement type of cybercrime. Why not book a demo today to see how it can help you maintain that constant vigilance as you look for new creative ways to express your brand identity?

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