Data breaches and other forms of cyberattacks have become far too common—it seems like every day another organization is reporting a hack or leak of critical information. In fact, according to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 781 tracked breaches in 2015 in the U.S. alone. And no industry, including government entities, financial institutions, security companies and retailers, is safe. It’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” your organization will experience a data breach. In addition to the material damage and potential revenue impact, companies also face the long-term effects of a poor reputation for dealing with this type of crisis.
Public relations professionals must be prepared to protect their companies’ reputations and to build back customer trust. Here are four recommendations to help guide you in protecting your brand’s reputation in the event of a security breach.
1. Establish a bulletproof response plan
Having a cyberattack plan as part of your organization’s crisis management strategy is non-negotiable in the digital age. Companies can get ahead of a crisis by leveraging social media to defuse damaging situations. In order to prepare, be sure to anticipate and understand the kinds of threats that could affect your business and your industry. Common threats include malicious attacks (e.g. malware, distributed denial-of-service attacks and cyber extortion), technology system glitches and even human error. You can find a comprehensive list of breach types here.
There are four phases of crisis communication: readiness, response, reassurance and recovery. In order to properly respond to a crisis, each stage must be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Develop materials such as messages and prepared statements, prepare delivery channels like hotlines and social media platforms and train employees regarding awareness and organizational procedures....
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