Cyber Security Awareness in the Variable Data and Direct Mail Printing Industries and the Consequences of Data Breaches

Dr. Charles T. Weiss and Dr. Carl Blue, Clemson University

The continuing trend of designing and delivering individualized and targeted printed messaging means more personal and demographic information is used as segmentation criteria or variable data in printed documents. This data usage increases the risk, even on applications like direct mail marketing, where production controls have been relatively insecure in the past. With the increase of data breaches, a heightened awareness of the risks involved in keeping data secure is the focus of this paper. Security awareness should be heightened in our educational centers of all kinds that are connected to the various graphics industries. Academic programs that ignore this risk are putting their students’ future employers and companies, their reputations, and their jobs on the line. This paper will link the scholarly pursuits of those connected to the graphics industry along with those in the information security of an increasing need of awareness of the risks involved in keeping data secure.

Areas of focus: Variable data printing, what is it and how the data is used; Direct mail advertising and services, what is it and how the data is used; Cyber security, the techniques used to protect the integrity of networks, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access; Data breaches, including case studies where data associated to digital printing and direct mail services were compromised; And, recommendations for developing and incorporating data security practicum around variable data printing and direct mail services in academic courses.

This paper has been developed by two faculty members from two separate academic institutions that are collaborating on data security in the variable data printing and direct mail services. One institution’s strength and focus has been on developing curriculum and educating students for careers in the graphics industry, as well as working with industry partners in enhancing their variable data printing and direct mail services.  The second faculty member’s institution has been focused on developing curriculum and educating students for careers in information security, as well as working with industry partners in expanding their needs for secure networks and data. This collaboration links the scholarly pursuits of those connected to the graphics industry with those in the information security of an increasing need of awareness of the risks involved in keeping data secure. With the increase of data breaches across the spectrum of industries and organization that compile and use data, a heightened awareness of the risks involved in keeping data secure is the focus of this paper.

Major Points:

  • Variable Data Printing – what is it and how is the data is used and integrated into printed material.
  • Direct Mail Advertising – What is it and how is the data is used and integrated into direct mail printed material.
  • Cyber Security – Explore techniques used to protect the integrity of networks, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.
  • Data Breaches – Case studies where data associated to digital printing and direct mail services have been compromised
  • Strategies and recommendations for developing and incorporating data security practicum around variable data printing and direct mail services into the academic curriculum.