Hackers are just a click away – are you ready?
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The other day, the news that Mark Zuckerberg is considering shutting down Facebook and Instagram in Europe went viral. Comments on this pompous announcement/threat/blackmail varied, but if you also take into account a 21% increase in cybercrime in Croatia*, it is hard not to wonder whether Mark would have saved us all if he went through with it, or at least made us a little less vulnerable in the digital world.
Although our social media are definitely not the only channels targeted by dark web stalkers, the ongoing swarm of cyberattacks makes one wonder whether to give up certain channels, cancel at least some of the dozens of newsletters they receive, or close some of the web shop accounts they have created. As individuals, we can all take certain steps to make our presence in the digital environment more secure, but the greatest responsibility still lies with those who daily lure us with offers and campaigns in order for us to become their buyers/users/followers/fans and share personal details with them, which they may or may not need. They are responsible both for their and for our data, which automatically makes them much more vulnerable and interesting to those with ill intentions.
This is nothing new. Extremely large numbers of cyberattacks, which are becoming more cunning and perfidious each passing day, have been a part of our reality since the inception of the Internet, but they weren’t talked about as much in public until recently, so we weren’t necessarily aware of them. An incredible increase in numbers pertaining to this type of crime, which has also led to an increase in the number of harmed organizations and individuals, has pushed this topic among the top daily news events.
What makes this topic worrying is the general lack of understanding of this type of crime and its commission by the average web user. What’s also abstract to us is the entire dark web and the bad guys who we (or at least I) tend to imagine as antisocial couch potatoes sitting in their mother’s basement, capable of causing multi-million dollar damage to companies and bringing turmoil (at the very least) to all of us who just want to buy another pair of shoes or a new game, or subscribe to another streaming platform.
Security and communication risks
What we can do is educate ourselves and listen to the advice of experts. A very useful website is called The No More Ransom Project. It specializes in helping victims of cyberattacks and offers relevant prevention tips and advice on what to do in case of an attack. You can also find useful information on the website, Twitter, and the YouTube channel of the Ministry of the Interior. The main lesson is that you should inform the police in the event of an attack and not pay ransom, and if you are an organization, you should also inform your users that their details have been compromised.
In case their data are stolen, organizations face two major issues that need to be addressed rather quickly – the security and the communication issue.
As for the communication issue, once data are leaked, it is absolutely impossible to stop different comments, trolling and disinformation related to the event popping up. But you are not helpless. The extent to which you will be publicly “crucified”, the extent to which the trust in your brand will be compromised, and the reputational damage you will suffer largely depends on the attitude you assume and how you communicate. The situation will be out of your control, but you can still try and manage it – if you know how to do it, that is.
But do you?
If you don’t, you can learn. If you feel unprepared, you can prepare.
Crisis Simulation training
The Crisis Simulation training program can offer you a real crisis experience using a crisis situation simulation to provide a qualitative assessment of your team’s or an individual’s preparedness for a crisis and its resolution in terms of communication. Timely and relevant messages are key here. You need to know how to define them and send them to your target audiences.
This training program will guide you through an actual crisis experience in a controlled setting and provide you with a clear picture of what your strengths are, what you still need to work on, and what to improve or develop to be ready in case of a crisis because, as we already know, the bad guys from the dark web are always lurking, and the question is not whether a crisis will happen to you, but when it will happen and whether you will be ready for it.
*Ministry of the Interior, Cabinet of the Minister, Public Relations Service: “… in 2021, there was a 21% increase in cybercrime to the detriment of Croatian citizens and companies compared to 2020”, February 2022.
Author: Renata Krajačić