Insights

4 Observations from FHR’s Cyber Communications Practice in 2022

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FHR
FleishmanHillard HighRoad
Insights

4 Observations from FHR’s Cyber Communications Practice in 2022

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FHR

It was another busy year for FleishmanHillard HighRoad’s cyber communications practice – we saw data breaches affecting companies in a wide range of sectors, including health care, retail, e-commerce, post-secondary education, utility and financial services.

As companies look at ways to safeguard their businesses and reputations in 2023, we share four observations from the past year that we hope will help them – no matter the sector they are in – be better prepared for and ready to respond to a cyber attack.

Preparing for the worst

Cyber attacks continue to be a clear and present danger as highlighted at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

More organizations proved eager to prepare for a cyber attack in 2022, with top Canadian companies working with us to be communications ready should a threat actor infiltrate their systems.

Financial services and utilities were among the industries we worked with to develop crisis communication playbooks and conduct cyber breach simulation exercises. Communications playbooks are designed to ensure your vulnerabilities are identified before an incident happens and to allow for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to communicating about a breach. It’s often not a matter of if a cyber attack will happen, but when, and preparation is key to an effective crisis response.

We’ve worked closely with companies to ensure executives and spokespeople are prepared to communicate with their stakeholder world. The demands on leaders in a time of crisis are only becoming more intense.

Ransomware dominates

Ransomware continued to be the leading method cyber criminals used to attack the companies who worked with us in 2022 as we helped guide their communications response.

We see that mid-sized companies are particularly at risk; many simply don’t have a cyber crisis response plan. We have also seen additional risk for organizations that are in the process of - or have recently acquired - smaller companies. These companies can be at risk if their IT systems aren’t upgraded as the operations of each organization become integrated.

Suffering a ransomware attack poses multiple reputational risks, and the decision to pay ransom or not is particularly difficult, especially if you’re an organization that receives public or donor funds. In a ransomware situation, operations often grind to a halt because systems and data are encrypted and inaccessible. While systems are down, listening to conversations on social media continues to be crucial.

Transparency with employees and partners

We have seen the more and more the crucial importance of communicating quickly with internal audiences and stakeholders in a cyberattack. Of course, external audiences are important – employees are also crucial. Failing to communicate clearly with your own employees runs the risk of encouraging speculation about what has happened and puts them in an awkward situation if they are dealing with customers and are aware that something is amiss. In particular, companies impacted by ransomware often can’t wait the weeks or months for a full e-discovery process to take place before they communicate with their employees and partners. Getting these communications right will go a long way to regaining trust with all audiences.

Increase in cyber insurance

Reflective of an increase in uptake seen in the U.S., most organizations we worked with had purchased some form of cyber insurance. Having this type of coverage allows a company hit by a cyber attack to bring in best-in-class expertise to help guide the crisis response. Our team of cyber communications experts is ready to help your organization be prepared for a cyber breach. Stay tuned for our next blog post with our thoughts on cyber risks companies will face in the year ahead. Contact us today to find out how we can work together to safeguard your company’s reputation.

It was another busy year for FleishmanHillard HighRoad’s cyber communications practice – we saw data breaches affecting companies in a wide range of sectors, including health care, retail, e-commerce, post-secondary education, utility and financial services.

As companies look at ways to safeguard their businesses and reputations in 2023, we share four observations from the past year that we hope will help them – no matter the sector they are in – be better prepared for and ready to respond to a cyber attack.

Preparing for the worst

Cyber attacks continue to be a clear and present danger as highlighted at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

More organizations proved eager to prepare for a cyber attack in 2022, with top Canadian companies working with us to be communications ready should a threat actor infiltrate their systems.

Financial services and utilities were among the industries we worked with to develop crisis communication playbooks and conduct cyber breach simulation exercises. Communications playbooks are designed to ensure your vulnerabilities are identified before an incident happens and to allow for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to communicating about a breach. It’s often not a matter of if a cyber attack will happen, but when, and preparation is key to an effective crisis response.

We’ve worked closely with companies to ensure executives and spokespeople are prepared to communicate with their stakeholder world. The demands on leaders in a time of crisis are only becoming more intense.

Ransomware dominates

Ransomware continued to be the leading method cyber criminals used to attack the companies who worked with us in 2022 as we helped guide their communications response.

We see that mid-sized companies are particularly at risk; many simply don’t have a cyber crisis response plan. We have also seen additional risk for organizations that are in the process of - or have recently acquired - smaller companies. These companies can be at risk if their IT systems aren’t upgraded as the operations of each organization become integrated.

Suffering a ransomware attack poses multiple reputational risks, and the decision to pay ransom or not is particularly difficult, especially if you’re an organization that receives public or donor funds. In a ransomware situation, operations often grind to a halt because systems and data are encrypted and inaccessible. While systems are down, listening to conversations on social media continues to be crucial.

Transparency with employees and partners

We have seen the more and more the crucial importance of communicating quickly with internal audiences and stakeholders in a cyberattack. Of course, external audiences are important – employees are also crucial. Failing to communicate clearly with your own employees runs the risk of encouraging speculation about what has happened and puts them in an awkward situation if they are dealing with customers and are aware that something is amiss. In particular, companies impacted by ransomware often can’t wait the weeks or months for a full e-discovery process to take place before they communicate with their employees and partners. Getting these communications right will go a long way to regaining trust with all audiences.

Increase in cyber insurance

Reflective of an increase in uptake seen in the U.S., most organizations we worked with had purchased some form of cyber insurance. Having this type of coverage allows a company hit by a cyber attack to bring in best-in-class expertise to help guide the crisis response. Our team of cyber communications experts is ready to help your organization be prepared for a cyber breach. Stay tuned for our next blog post with our thoughts on cyber risks companies will face in the year ahead. Contact us today to find out how we can work together to safeguard your company’s reputation.

FHR
FleishmanHillard HighRoad
FleishmanHillard HighRoad
FHR
FleishmanHillard HighRoad