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Cyber Problems In Public Relations

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With the era of technology and science advancement gradually encroaching on all professions and turning analogue hands to digital, it has become almost inevitable for an organization to be faced with various forms of cyber-attacks. Essentially, there is need for organizations to be aware of these various cyber-attacks so as to build the necessary armour in combating malicious cyber activities. Some of these attacks includes; Hacking, Phishing, Faceless blogging.

Hacking

Hacking generally refers to unaccredited encroachment to a computer or a network or a non-malicious activity that employs the uncommon alterations to apparatus or processes. Hacking is extremely sensitive especially for corporate communications firms or Public relations agencies that not only proprietary data but private material and information about their various clients. It is even more laborious because other organizations turn to them in matters of cyber security crisis whilst they battle their own hacked systems and cyber problems. When hacked, organizations not only fear data loss but reputational damages and this is why hacking has earned its place as important problem faced today by many organizations. With about ten million cyber-attacks every day, the question for a Public Relations officer is no longer if a company would get sacked but how to handle it when it does happen because a poorly handled reaction can result in losses that are far worse than the outcome of the hacking. It is necessary to prepare for these eventualities because a slow response could cause the publics to lose faith in the organization where a faster response would have already done proper damage control.

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Damage control for hacking as a public relations officer

  1. Respond Quickly and Honestly
  2. People become cynical when news hit any company had been affected by cyber-crimes especially a company that they are part; shareholders or stakeholders so it is imperative to take the concerns of the customers very seriously and respond as quick as possible. In bid to respond quickly and save the face of the company, the truth of the situation must not be discarded. Apologies should come in play alongside a plan of action to reassure all customers and shareholder; an apology plus a solution manages the crisis faster.

  3. Public Pathway for Communication for affected persons
  4. Engagement is very key with Public relations so it is important to steer off all negative comment from the organization’s main site by create new properties that are specific for affected clients only. It is necessary to have a specialized site created only to provide detailed information, solutions and answer questions to satisfy your clients and build the confidence in the company. Redirecting the negative feedback helps to keep the organization’s online space clean and helps manage to not only manage the present situation but make the public relations efforts in future easier to handle.

  5. Brief and Clear Communication
  6. Because the company’s credibility is in danger, all communication must be simple to understand because a business in crisis does not need more questions. The public wants simple solutions and explanations.

  7. Offer Compensation
  8. When a cyber-attack occurs, the breach of trust is instinctively threatened and this is why the organization should engage in seeking compensation for the clients with either discounts, gift items etc just to buy back their trust and loyalty. This has a way of making customers know their business is valued.

  9. Line up Legal Help
  10. Have a lawyer with expertise on data and privacy law at the tip of your fingers. The lawyer must also be current on legal trends around the world and accurate with the differences in legal requirements and demands per geographical location.

  11. Be Ready to Calm Customers
  12. Update them regularly and make sure to set aside their resources. Inform them on time to avoid panic over relatively small issues and ensure they know that you have full control of the situation with quick and early communication.

  13. Repair Your Image
  14. If loss of data occurs, crisis management must employ strategic efforts to redeem the business’s reputation and name because the tiniest of breach can strip any organization off every shred of its reputation or achievements. Focus on building brand image and remind customers that your organization is careful, dependable and solicitous.

  15. Devise Joint Action with Business Partners

Bring your partners onto your planning and response team so that any breach or malware can be contained as effectively as possible. They may not be able to do much, but communication and cooperation go a long way to rebuild trust.

Avoid hacking

Obvious solutions would include creating difficult passwords which you should change frequently, lock devices, make timeouts fairly short and employ the use of several services that offer two-factor authentication to make hacking much more difficult. Be careful not to link accounts especially if you work for a PR firm. Don’t comment on social media sites using your personal account when speaking for the company or on behalf of a client. Storing in the cloud is also an effective way to safeguard your data and that of your client such that only limited persons have access to the data.

Impersonation

To intentionally copy another persons’ characteristics, such as their behavior, speech, appearance or expressions in an attempt to deceive someone else. This is becoming a raging problem in Public relations because at the center of Public Relations in Nigeria which is the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, there are decries of an alarming increase in impersonation especially within the association. Impersonation fraud is divided into piggy-backing, where the ‘victim’ colludes with the imposter fraudulently to collect benefits claims, and hijacking, where the victim is unaware of the identity of the impostor. Impersonation is usually done with phishing which is another cyber security crime on its own and it is considered one of the fastest growing fraud because it is easy to commit. What does impersonation do to brands?

Impersonation affects customer’s trust because their first point of call is often to dwindle the customers and exploit social media against an organization. There are about 500 percent year over year increase in the number of social media phishing attacks are reported by ProofPoint and these sites are known for intercepting customer support channels on social media inorder to steal their credentials. To combat these social media impersonators, it is important to register your business on every social media platform and monitor your business using monitoring platforms not just for customer services but also for dodgy activities. In combating impersonation as a public relation officers, similar damage control rules of hacking would also apply here. A quick and honest response would always be required and an example is when the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced to members of the public Group Managing Director (GMD) Engineer Andrew Yakubu is being impersonated on various social media platforms.

A statement was made available to journalists by Mr. Fidel Pepple, Ag. Group General Manager Public Affairs Division of the NNPC to notify that “the activities of these criminally minded persons entail the issuance of fake letters on the internet with the aim of defrauding innocent members of the public including investors within and outside Nigeria. ”Mr. Pepple noted that the damage done by the activities of these fraudsters on the hard-earned reputation of the GMD was incalculable.

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