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November 4, 2015

The TalkTalk crisis and responding to a cyber attack

TalkTalk has been in the news a lot recently following its security hack, which sent both the brand and its customers into panic. With news of cyber hacks on large brands becoming more frequent, brands need to get clued up on how to protect their data, as well as their reputation, when things go wrong.

The hack

The three who have been arrested in connection with the TalkTalk hack are all between the ages of 15-21, with over 221 million email addresses compromised. Cyber-attacks represent an increasingly key operational risk for all large companies, so it’s imperative that brands have clear, effective plans in place to combat them.

Action

TalkTalk’s repDatautation is now sluggishly attempting to recover from the hack, following poor initial implementation of its broadband deployment. According to The Drum, it’s now got almost as many complaints as EE – both of which have far worse records than any other provider.

TalkTalk closed down their whole website, freezing all social media activity and communication. This set their customers into a brief panic and proved the lack of a contingency plan in place at the company. They publicly accepted that they were concerned by the hack, and weren’t exactly sure how bad it was.

Reaction

Whilst panic and scepticism set in amongst TalkTalk’s customers, perhaps the bigger problem is that this seemed to have been mirrored by the brand. TalkTalk weren’t completely sure which information was encrypted by the hackers – not exactly something which would put its customers at ease. It was later revealed that the exact scale of the attack wasn’t as big as had initially been thought – a clear sign that they may have panicked a little too much.

Of course, businesses must ensure that they prepare for the worst case scenario and the safety of their customers’ details is paramount. However, this could still have been possible in this instance without the panic and self-destruction from the company internally.

What should brands do?

If your brand is the subject of a cyber-hack, you should ensure that you’re well-prepared and able to reassure customers. You should:

  • Come across confidently: Even if you, like TalkTalk, are unsure exactly what area of your business has been compromised, assure your customers that you’re doing all you can to resolve the issue. A confident front will discourage panic, ensuring you’re in the best chance of fixing things swiftly.
  • Keep customers at the forefront: Where necessary, you may need to tell customers to be extra vigilant with personal data online. Whilst you don’t want to cause panic, you need to ensure the problem doesn’t get any worse.
  • Be consistent: Throughout your social media output and customer services teams, the information revealed should be as consistent as possible. If one person hears one thing, and another is being told differently, the credibility of your company will be brought into question.
  • Be secure: If you’re unfortunate enough to be subjected to a hack, ensure sufficient security systems and monitoring services are in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. A hack, however large or small, is sure to put your company’s reputation at risk. So the more you can do to prevent it, the better off you’ll be.

Take a look at Igniyte’s guide to protecting company reputation here for details of how to implement internal security procedures, and get in touch with me at simon@igniyte.co.uk or on +44 (0) 203 542 8689 if you’d like to discuss protecting your brand’s reputation.

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