Cyber Security is the greatest unseen fear of this nascent century; it includes crimes we cannot foresee until damage is done. Time waste, money spent to fix, secure, and re-build. Has it happened to you at any time since you’ve been online?
As companies continue to strengthen online branding with more content marketing and deeper websites with hundreds of pages, security against cyber attack will become the most expensive business investment a company makes.
Recently, we watched financial markets tumble and nearly recover $2 billion in lost valuation during two minutes of cyber attack on an Associated Press Twitter account. The hackers took control of the Associated Press twitter account and littered a few tweets with words to trip up computers programmed to monitor for terrorism. Man beat the computer in this case.
The Associated Press wasn’t the only Twitter account to fall victim to cyber crime; many, many others have experienced the same. In previous situations, U.S. financial markets didn’t suffer as much, but brand strength did.
Public Relations Implications
Think a moment about corporations with products and services and private credit information of millions of customers worldwide. When a security breach occurs, everyone knows someone who is affected from loss of data, hoax, financial theft, and so much more.
What goes on in the boardroom when something like this happens?
The marketing team meets morning, noon and night to monitor the situation…much like CNN’s Situation Room where every detail of every turn of events is documented, monitored, analyzed, and acted upon.
Boardrooms become situation rooms, too. When a cyber threat occurs, customers are on shaky ground with a brand. If it only happens once in a blue moon, customers can forgive and stay loyal. If it happens consistently, due to a company’s lack of preparation against future cyber security, then customers will become fickle quick.
The PR implications for damage to the brand due to hackers are intense; all eyes turn to the customer to help alleviate fears, keep them loyal, and ensure damage control.
Tips to Insulate Before A PR Crisis
1. A crisis communications plan has always been a necessity for companies. When was the last time it was dusted off and reviewed for cyber security?
2. PR needs to be involved during corporate crisis at all times; a company in crisis needs outward-thinking experts who put the customer top of mind.
3. While strategists are monitoring the situation moment to moment, the PR team needs to be preparing statements for media and customers in parallel.
4. Twice a year, the entire marketing team along with IT should meet for a dry run to determine the chain of events should a cyber attack occur in a company. In this case, “cyber attack” can also include the swiping of credit information and personal data; if it’s electronic information, then it’s a breach of cyber security.
5. Annually, meet with the C-suite to review the cyber crisis plan and ensure everyone is on board and ready to hit send when and if a crisis occurs.
Companies manage crises differently, but one thing is for certain…don’t ignore the fact that cyber security is a real threat to more than just technology.