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Newspapers Answer Concerns About Cyber Attack

newspaper cyber attack

Cyber attacks are a constant growing concern in the Digital Age. As nearly everyone is hooked into the web, and more offsite and cloud-based computing is becoming popular, especially when far too many consumers are not well-versed in online safety, weaknesses and vulnerabilities abound.

Some of the biggest brands in the world have been hacked in recent years, suffering PR consequences and lost consumer confidence. But, when it comes to companies that might be vulnerable to computer-based attacks, print newspapers would not likely be at the top of anyone’s list of potential targets.

And yet, apparently, that’s exactly what happened. According to CNN, “some of America’s best-known newspapers are wondering whether their systems were the victim of cyber attack” from foreign interests. These news publications, including the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Baltimore Sun, have said the malware attack created multiple headaches and miscues for the papers.

Some of the specific issues also created PR problems for the papers. For example, printing was delayed for both the LA Times and the Union-Tribune, as well as the LA printed editions of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In the case of many Union-Tribune subscribers, the paper never came at all that Saturday, a circumstance that is absolutely anathema to everything newspapers are built on. The presses must run on time and deliver on schedule.

So far, the messages trickling out about the event have been confused, or, at least, not as specific as they could be. Some are calling the event a “malware incident,” while others are describing it as a “virus” that caused a “technical issue.”

At the Sun, the issue was less pronounced than at other affected papers. They ended up printing the Saturday edition without the comics and puzzles. That led to a lot of calls, tweets, and emails, but at least they were able to get the paper out on time.

Once a few days passed after the event, the real questions started being asked. Who did this, and what, and how? Were more papers at risk? Were subscribers who gave these papers their personal and financial information at risk? Then, the questions only intensified when a spokesperson for one of the papers said the attacks “appeared to have originated outside the United States.” While that had been the assumption, for subscribers to hear that confirmed left many feeling vulnerable.

And it’s those feelings of unknown vulnerability that are often the biggest PR hurdles after a cyber attack. Customers are not sure if they’re safe, and they want quick reassurances. As tempting at that may be, though, it’s better to have the facts before you risk offering less than accurate information, as some brands have learned when dealing with these situations in the past.

The bottom line is this: everyone is vulnerable to cyber attack. Take precautions, but, if it happens to you, be patient, be thorough, and be up front with your worried customers. It’s better that they know sooner, than they find out the hard way later.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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