Cybersecurity: Cutting Through the Noise

  • April 5, 2017
  • Helen Murphy

Last month I wrote a blog about where I see the cybersecurity industry going. (Here’s a 10-second summary: breaches will keep happening, consumers are aware but still opting for usability over security, and privacy is going to get really complicated.) Since I wrote that article, a lot has happened. A few examples:

  • It was reported that Yahoo’s board would be held financially responsible for company losses related to the 2013 breach – a first for corporations.
  • The president signed an executive order that eliminates FCC rules that required ISPs to get customer consent before using or selling their browser data.
  • Russian hacking and the 2016 election remain in U.S. headlines as the story continues to take twists and turns worthy of an Agatha Christie novel.

Major changes in such a short amount of time, right? The cybersecurity industry moves at a furious pace. In this environment, a successful communications program needs to be nimble, informed, and informative. Here are a few of the tactics we utilize at INK.

Keep Up
First and foremost, for an effective communications program, you have to know what is going on on a daily basis to ensure relevancy and take advantage of timing. I started writing this blog a week ago, and in that time, two of the three examples I had in my original intro became irrelevant. That is how fast major changes happen in this industry. At INK, we have systems in place to keep up with the news. Setting up Google Alerts for industry keywords is a must, but it isn’t enough. I use Twitter to keep up with the latest breaking news. I follow a variety of reporters and influencers in the space and check in regularly to see the most recent chatter. You can check out a good list of infosec and privacy influencers here. And here are some industry publications help us stay ahead of the curve:

  • Krebs on Security – Brian Krebs is a former Washington Post reporter and is known for breaking numerous breach stories on his blog. His content is technical and always informative.
  • Dark Reading is a great resource for businesses and industry professionals looking for information to keep their businesses safe, educating employees, and learning about the latest threats. Kelly Jackson Higgins is one of my favorite authors to follow on the site.
  • Politico’s Morning Cybersecurity Newsletter is an excellent way to stay updated on the latest regulatory and legislative news.
  • WSJ CIO Journal – If you don’t mind paying for a subscription the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal section offers in-depth cybersecurity content. The publication also provides a WSJ Pro Cybersecurity newsletter

Reading and learning is key to figuring out opportunities to comment on emerging trends, positioning existing solutions to address new problems, and more.

Be Honest, Cut The Jargon, Speak the Language
In an industry of shrinking rights to privacy, large-scale breaches on a daily basis, government intrigue, and prolific hackers, you can bet that company news and pitches will be met with skepticism by reporters, analysts, and other experts. When communicating with the influencers in this space, it is best to cut the jargon, speak directly, and quantify everything. When talking about a product or solution, have a case study or verifiable, third-party research ready to back up your claims. Avoid qualifiers like “best,” “first-of-its-kind,” and stick with communicating what problem your product solves. This straightforward approach will go a long way when trying to get influencers to listen.

In addition to cutting the jargon, consider your audiences. The conversation around cybersecurity has moved beyond CTOs and IT professionals. Security and privacy issues are impacting the highest levels of corporations and government organizations. Consider an audience-based approach for your communications program. Your company’s story, the content you create, and the messaging you push out are going to be consumed by many levels within an organization. Each of these audiences is dealing with unique pain points, varied attention spans, and will have an interest in your business for different reasons. Speaking each stakeholders’ language will help you when reaching reporters, business decision makers, and industry thought leaders.

Consider Partnerships and Education
Just last week, the Pew Research Center released a report assessing what the public knows about cybersecurity. The results are not surprising to anyone in the space. Of the 13 questions assessing what consumers know about very basic security principles, the majority of respondents answered only two correctly.

Non-profits and government associations in the cybersecurity space are trying to fill this education void – Stop. Think. Connect., UT Austin Center for Identity, and the National Institute for Cybersecurity Education are a few. Partnering with these groups is a good way to raise awareness of your company while also doing some social good. These groups are always looking for consumer and business tips, survey information, and best practices documents to share and educate. Many are also active on social media, hosting regular Twitter chats and sharing security tips and best practices. As a business, consider partnering and supporting these groups, participating in their events, and sharing educational materials and industry insight with them.

The cybersecurity industry is a noisy one but a steady cadence of thought leadership, commenting on the latest news, an educational approach, and sticking to facts can help businesses in this space cut through the clutter. Interested in learning about how your business can get its voice heard? Shoot me an email.

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