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Strong Crisis Response Is Critical During Cyberattacks

COVID-19 challenged brands in 2020. Now the need for a strong crisis response is compounded by increased cyberattacks and data breaches that can hold your business hostage.

Businesses are increasingly targets of cybercriminals. In 2020, multiple data breaches of 500 or more records occur each day. Resolving beaches can be very expensive.

The costs of ransomware payments, restoring data, and resuming operations are just part of the financial hit. Regaining consumer trust comes at a higher cost, especially if names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers are posted online.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, nearly 70 percent of survey respondents say they are "concerned" about hackers and cyberattacks, while more than half of those report being "fearful." A slightly lower number is concerned about contracting COVID-19.

So, how do we protect our customers’ trust in us as guardians of their personal information?

Make a crisis response plan. Test it. Tweak it.

Remember instructions on shampoo bottles to "wash, rinse, repeat?" That rings true when creating a strong crisis response plan. Most businesses are unprepared for a cyberattack.

Crisis communication plans are fluid documents to revisit every few months in collaboration with personnel throughout your business. Due to the proliferation of cyberattacks, several free resources are now available including:

Set expectations for open, transparent crisis communications

There were a record number of breaches in businesses last year and that number will continue to increase. Most of those resulted from hacking, not misplaced computers or flash drives.

As any business can be a target of cyber threats, you want a strong response in place if it happens. As others work behind the scenes, the marketing function should position the Owner/President to communicate openly and transparently as possible.

Keeping responses brief, simple and to the point is critical to maintaining trust. Ransomware attacks are likely to interrupt business operations, sometimes prompting closings or limited services. Tell the public. Don't leave them wondering.

Treat bad news as extra media coverage for protecting the public.

If a breach occurs, immediately respond to the crisis by sharing with the media the steps you're taking to protect your customers. Regard it as an opportunity to remind people how to safeguard their own data. Update them on phishing schemes or fraud alerts.

The entire community is at risk of cybercrimes. Even if you can't share specifics about the attack, direct responses to reassure your customers that you are most concerned about them and is your top priority

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