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Public Relations for Data Breaches: What You Should Know

Public Relations for Data Breaches: What You Should Know

Hacking attacks compromise a company’s technical infrastructure as well as stealing funds from company bank accounts, client’s financial data, and leaking proprietary internal communications. And it will kill a company’s reputation if they are seen to be weak or lax with security. Customers feel unsettled by possible cyber attacks. In 2014, Americans listed hacking as their number one fear. The well-publicized attacks against Sony at the year’s end didn’t help matters. Consider these tips when dealing with security breach issues.

The best defense is to be prepared…

Regardless of how skilled your IT team is, technical security breaches are always possible – and they’re becoming commonplace. There are ways around even the most secure systems, and the more your company stands to lose, the more attractive you are to potential criminals. Implement a damage-control plan before an attack happens. The plan should include the technical specifics, as well as internal and external communications. The worst time to establish a good PR plan is when the company stress level is high. Having a predetermined plan gives you peace of mind and a jump-starts conversations about cyber-security among your non-technical employees.

Understand Internet privacy is in the past…

Incidences of firms and public figures having sensitive documents leaked continue, but limiting that damage by keeping it off the Internet goes a long way. While keeping everything offline may not be possible for some of your most important information, like banking and payroll data. Remember hackers look for internal communications often to make a spectacle of corporations. If sensitive information does not need to be shared via email or other forms of digital messaging, use offline communications.

Focus on customers’ well-being, not assigning blame

The Sony hacking case provided a great story for the media: one of the world’s largest technology firms had its technical infrastructure damaged impacting thousands of lives. Everybody wanted to blame someone, and when that happens, it’s not the hacker taking the hit, but usually the CEO or head of digital security. The best course is to direct attention to what IS working and how things are being improved.

Address your audience intelligently…

With the proliferation of digital technology, the public may understand data security breaches better than you and your coworkers. Communications teams should understand their audience and help you address them accordingly. If your customers are less tech-savvy, stick to the non-tech aspects that need reporting and provide a link for those wanting more technical information Your customers will appreciate it – but be sure any information you share can’t be used against you in a future attack!

In the case of security breaches, the more you know in advance, the better prepared you’ll be. While it’s unpleasant to think you could be the victim of cybercrime, it’s the smartest way to stay safe as digital communications continue to alter every aspect of our working life.

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