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3 Ways Communicators Can Help Combat Cybercrime

Cybercrime goes beyond just losing money and compromised personal data. Organizations – whether a business, a non-profit or a government – have far more to lose. Industrial espionage, activist attacks, disrupting the enterprise, outright terrorism or beyond, and every company has probably been targeted or is a target right now. ??

It’s not just about technology
But cyber terrorism isn’t really just a technology problem, says Michael Zimet, a member of the Board of Governors of InfraGard, an FBI partnership with the private sector that focuses on information sharing and learning opportunities to promote cyber awareness and advance national security. It’s a people problem. Up to 90 percent of data breaches start with a person giving an attacker access to a computer network via a phishing attempt   

Malware can be embedded in almost every file type, and our world is already under what Zimet calls “cyberstress” – which can let defenses down. It’s a costly issue. With more than $5 million paid for ransomware, a compromise of business email costing $2.3 billion and the toll of economic espionage is up to $1 trillion. One 2017 estimate puts the cost of all cybercrime topping $2 trillion, with a projected bill of more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.

The role of internal communications
So how can communicators help? Helping build cyber awareness and sensitivity in an organization is where communications comes in, says Zimet. He shared three key priorities in his session with IABC New Jersey in October:

  1. Educate. Help employees know their role in protecting the organization and why cyber vigilance is needed, not only at work, but at home. ?
  2. Deliver. Use simulated exercises to test a person’s ability to detect attacks of social engineering and know the risks.?
  3. Communicate. Sustain awareness of security and provide tools to drive positive behavior.?

Partner with IT
The goal is to drive behavior change amid an ongoing environment of learning. This is where the partnership between IT and communications comes in. Zimet says to be sure to ask:

  • What problems have they seen/experienced? ?
  • What is their greatest concern, exposure? What are the risks? ?
  • What’s most important for employees to learn/do? ?

Elements of a good cybersecurity awareness program also include executive support, funding and the tone set from leaders; defined and understood audiences; a foundation to build upon and sustain cybersecurity awareness; and creativity.

IT provides the tools, while communications provides the mindset.

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