Find out about the exciting changes at Bulldog Reporter!

Bulldog Reporter has moved to a new, forever home at agilitypr.com/bulldogreporter

Our 'parents', Agility PR Solutions, decided it was time to update the ol’ dog house, and rather than undergoing a long, painful website renovation, we just moved in with them!

Don't worry - we will continue delivering the most important news and relevant opinion pieces you've come to expect from Bulldog Reporter, we've just made it easier to scan and read articles, especially on mobile devices.

And keep an eye out for our streamlined and mobile-friendly daily email - or opt for our new weekly summary!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Hide message

Cybersecurity PR: How Last Week’s Impacted Sites Should Respond

cyber attack, cybersecurity, Denial of Services, Domain name system, Dynamic Network Services, junk data, Marketing, Pr, Public relations, Solomon McCown, T.J. Winick, website attackBy T.J. Winick, Vice President, Solomon McCown

On Friday morning, some of the world’s biggest websites were knocked offline for hours. The issue was with web-technology provider Dynamic Network Services, Inc. (known simply as “Dyn”) which was the target of multiple Denial of Services (DOS) attacks. According to the Wall Street Journal, DOS attacks “can knock websites offline by flooding them with junk data, blocking the way for legitimate users.”

News stories weren’t critical of impacted sites such as Spotify and Github, but rather focused on New Hampshire-based Dyn, which provides DNS (Domain Name System) services for a large swath of the Internet. Yet tech journos were not particularly hard on Dyn either, portraying the company as the victim of hackers who utilized an arsenal of internet devices to launch the crippling attacks. Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating, though no suspects have been named.

Most sites that had service disrupted such as Netflix, SoundCloud, Etsy, and Amazon responded swiftly, taking to Twitter to post status updates as soon as the social network was restored (Twitter was also impacted).

Many of the sites said they were experiencing “issues” and that engineers were working on the problem.

SoundCloud and Netflix did a particularly good job of keeping their loyal followers updated, with the former directing users to their blog. When service was restored, the companies thanked them for their patience. It’s that type of customer service users appreciate (and now expect), even if they are supremely frustrated at the time with an inability to access a site or service.

While the breach alone may not cause problems for these sites, it can certainly compound other sources of negative PR. In the case of Netflix, for instance, one writer noted that, while the cyberattack likely won’t result in subscribers demanding their money back, Friday’s breach was not “exactly encouraging” for a streaming service which has suffered its fair share of bad PR in recent months due to price hikes.

Overall, these companies appeared to do the best they could under the circumstances, with very little information or explanation available at the time. Still, there is plenty organizations can do to communicate with key audiences even when they are, essentially, operating in the dark.

So here are three things all web-based companies should keep in mind should another cyberattack occur.

Put Leadership Up Front: Customers and users need to see a company’s leadership take responsibility during a crisis, even when there’s not a whole lot to share. It’s not about overpromising, especially when you don’t have all the facts. But it is about meeting obligations. For instance, if you say you’ll provide timely updates, hold yourself accountable and do so.

Be Accurate: When there’s not a lot of facts to report on, don’t allow rumors and misperceptions to fill the vacuum. Realize there’s a demand for information and a media beast to feed. With social media, the likelihood of inaccurate reporting spreading is only multiplied. So take every opportunity necessary to set the record straight.

Bring in Experts: Make experts available to the media if they can you help make your case. You need respected third party validators, i.e. people who have a depth of experience (in this case, in cybersecurity) to speak to the press and/or allay the concerns of other key audiences who may not think your response alone is credible.

T.J. Winick is a Vice President at Solomon McCown and Company, a strategic communications firm based in Boston with an office in New York. A former broadcast network journalist, Winick specializes in crisis and issues management, media strategy and digital content.

We have a new, forever home! Visit agilitypr.com/bulldogreporter for new stories!