10 steps to prepare to communicate about cyber incidents

By Ben Overlander

Communicating around cyber incidents can fill even the most seasoned of communications professionals with fear. According to recent research by Regester Larkin, almost half of communications teams feel unprepared to communicate about them. A good communications response to a cyber incident is critical to protecting reputation and minimising subsequent commercial impacts such as a loss of customers or intellectual data.

Regester Larkin director, Ben Overlander, shares 10 steps to help organisations prepare to communicate confidently about cyber incidents.

1.Understand what data your organisation holds and identify the legal,
regulatory, operational and reputational risks a breach would cause.

2. Identify which regulators you would need to communicate with in a cyber
incident. Develop relationships with them in peacetime.

3. Develop draft materials for how you would communicate detailed technical
information to non-technical audiences.

4. Map the key stakeholders you would need to communicate with and the
most suitable channels. Consider the implications of an IT outage.

5. Media train potential spokespeople specifically against cyber incidents.
Ensure they can speak confidently about cyber issues.

6. Engage senior leaders and agree how your organisation would approach
the difficult challenges around a cyber incident:

  • Would we proactively communicate?
  • How would we respond to a ransom attempt?
  • Do we apologise if it’s not our fault?

7. Write a list of questions you would need to ask your IT colleagues in a
cyber incident.

8. Develop a cyber playbook or toolkit documenting all of the above.

9. Engage with your IT colleagues so they are familiar with your plans.

10. Rehearse the communications response to a cyber incident through a
crisis exercise.

Read 7 tips for cyber exercises.

Engaging the top team in crisis preparedness

Crisis-Management-Insights-Survey-2015-011.pngChief executives, managing directors and other senior business leaders are failing to engage fully in crisis preparedness and risk undermining their organisation’s ability to manage crises, according to Steelhenge and Regester Larkin’s latest crisis management survey.

The survey of 170 large companies from 27 countries revealed that big business understands the need to prepare for a crisis, with 86 per cent of respondents owning a crisis management plan, 59 per cent carrying out crisis training and 68 per cent conducting crisis exercises at least annually. It is clear that crisis preparedness is high on the agenda. Continue reading

Seven tips for cyber exercises

Cyber%201By Dominic Cockram

Cyber attacks will continue to threaten business operations in 2016, with many commentators claiming that this year we could see ‘the big one’.

Organisations are increasingly focused on understanding the impacts a cyber attack could have on their operations and reputation. Many are now using cyber scenarios in their crisis exercises to test and validate their assumptions on how they would respond and reflect on the unique challenges a cyber attack could bring.

The exercises range from fully immersive simulations, that develop and build competence and confidence, by allowing a realistic replication of the pressures, issues and uncertainty, to desktop sessions, that provide leadership teams and broader management the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the nuances of a cyber response such as the awkward language and reporting processes.

Having run a large number of cyber exercises over the last 18 months, I thought it would be useful to share some of the common lessons.

Continue reading

TalkTalk: The twists and turns of the cyber crisis continue

iStock_000006935624_LargeThe story of the TalkTalk cyber crisis and the company’s response continues to unfold as we saw inevitable outrage over the week-end with stories galore of customers with “potentially hacked bank accounts” raising a whole new raft of rumours, heating the debate and breeding more noise about what might have happened and just how great the impacts may be.

The story was moved by the CEO (quite cleverly) to the broader focus of “cyber risk is a wider problem the UK needs to face up to and address” with calls for more Government support to tackle cyber crime.  A fair appeal and one raised by me in my earlier blog – regulation and control or assurance in this domain is very much required –  even though challenging to apply in a reasonable manner. Continue reading

Talk Talk – a network hack by any other name

talktalk-cyberattack-hack-bank-card-detailsTalkTalk is the latest in a long line of high profile businesses to undergo a ‘cyber attack’ as they call it.  A real pattern is emerging of how these matters are managed in the public domain and it is interesting to note there is no use of the dreaded “hacked” terminology in their reports and messages.

They are now in that incredibly tricky position of knowing intruders have been in – but not being quite sure what they have left with in their bag of electronic ‘swag’.  It is now that the executive team discover just how convoluted the investigations can be and the awful fact that there is the potential to never know exactly how they got in or what was taken.  At a time when everyone is seeking certainty, the challenge of a cyber crisis such as this is that conducting investigations as to where hackers have been on your network, particularly if it is integrated across key platforms, can be a very, very long process. It can be quick if fortune smiles on you but there are no guarantees. Continue reading

Launch of BS 11200 – the new British Standard for Crisis Management

bs11200In May this year, the Cabinet Office and BSI published BS 11200 – the new British Standard for Crisis Management – Guidance and Good Practice.  Its official launch will be on 18th September in London.

Many would say the new Standard is long overdue; others that crisis management is already covered by ISO 22301, the International Standard for Business Continuity Management Systems.  However, whatever your view, no one can demur from the fact that BS 11200 covers the subject in far more depth and detail than any other Standard hitherto.

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Resilience: The 21st century imperative

By Dominic Cockram

Resilient - Rising to Challenge and Overcoming a ProblemThe theme of this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is ‘Resilient Dynamism’, and this has provoked much debate as to what this could possibly mean. Having led a BCI working group to produce a white paper on Organisational Resilience last year, it is a debate I have followed with interest. It seems the concept of resilience is continuing to raise its head and could now gain support from the heart of the economic and political world. Arianna Huffington recently explored the complexity of the term in an excellent article titled ‘Davos 2013: Resilience as a 21st Century Imperative’.

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Cyber Security and Business Continuity: The stats & the steps

National Cyber Security MonthAs the relationships between businesses and customers move increasingly online, last week’s denial-of-service attack on HSBC was a stark reminder of how dangerous cyber attacks have become. ICT continuity has quickly risen to become a top business and policy priority, and essential to safeguarding organisational survival.

Most organisations, regardless of size or sector, are dependent on their ICT infrastructure to deliver products and services. Any disruption can negatively impact operational capability, and by extension, do damage to reputation, profitability and even potential for future growth.

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Cyber Security and the 2012 Olympics

With just one week to go until the Opening Ceremony, London is buzzing! The summer Olympics in London offer an incredible opportunity for athletes, spectators and whole nations to come together in celebration of sporting achievement. Unfortunately, the London 2012 Games will also offer a unique opportunity for criminals to defraud large numbers of people. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was reported that China suffered 12 million online attacks per day, and officials at this summer’s London Olympics have already reported 124 known scams that have targeted millions of consumers. In the past four months, fraudulent activity targeting smartphones has increased by 800% in the UK, which has been linked to the fast-approaching Olympic Games. Smartphones offer a new, easily targeted and particularly vulnerable chink in the armour of cyber security. Continue reading