Crisis management of cybersecurity issues

Cyber security crisis management.

This blog was written by Kristina Smith, Corporate Communication Specialist at Elevate Communication. Kristina is part of Elevate’s issues planning and crisis management team, working to uphold and repair corporate reputations. She also lectures and tutors on this at The University of Queensland.  

The evolving nature of contemporary crises

Members of Elevate’s issues and crisis management team have decades of experience dealing with crises. At Elevate, we have dedicated specialists for crisis communication, issues management and the stakeholder engagement and community consultation work that flows from dealing with any corporate crisis. Repairing reputation is a key part of our work and our specialist team understands and can advise on how best to achieve this. 

Over the decades we’ve been in the crisis communication space, we’ve seen a transition in the nature of our crisis work. While bricks and mortar crises, such as accidents on building sites, a change in leadership, a misdemeanour on the job, criminal activity of employees, etc., will always be a mainstay, cyber-crisis is fast emerging as a critical segment of crisis work.

How to solve cybersecurity issues

crisis management framework applies to the cybersecurity setting; however, further considerations are required. The top 3 are: 

1. Recognition that while cybersecurity and data breaches ‘feel’ like an IT issue they are actually an employee issue, a customer issue, and a business issue—essentially a people issue.  

2. Acknowledgement of the need to stay ahead of people, so the voice is yours and the narrative is yours to write. What this means in a practical sense is knowing and having the means to set up a hotline and landing pages on your website (if you still have access to your domain). You also need to be able to contact your stakeholders quickly and be able to limit social media leakage from your internal stakeholders by considering an internal system shutdown.  

3. Know how legal professional privilege applies and the laws surrounding confidentiality and privacy legislation—tap in your lawyer to your crisis response team. Before considering any ransom payment, consider the legal ramifications of your jurisdiction—there are competing legal considerations you need to make so get your lawyers involved 

Top 3 attributes of the best crisis communication firms?

1. Listen

The best crisis communication firms listen to all that is being said about the crisis. They rate perception. They don’t just want the facts, they want to know what is being interpreted, what is being perceived, what emotions are being elicited, who is doing the talking, and who has the loudest voice and why.

2. Ask the hard questions

Heard of playing devil’s advocate? Well, you want your crisis communications agency to play that role for you. It’s better to have your agency ask you tough, probing questions and you being prepared, than facing those questions for the first time in the media or standing in front of your shareholders. 

3. Provide support

The best crisis communication firms support their clients through a crisis and beyond to repair corporate reputations and instigate any policy or process improvements following any crisis. You want your crisis communications agency to be your partner and help you to elevate your business to better than before the crisis. This is the long-term strategy. While the heat of the crisis burns out quickly, your crisis communications agency should be your partner in dampening embers and identifying any new flares. They should help you to make real strategic change that will put your business in a better place than before and rebuild your trust bank.  

If you would like to get prepared with your issue management communications plan or find yourself facing cybersecurity issues or if you’re in the middle of a corporate crisis, please email us and our Corporate Communication crisis management team will quickly be in touch. Contact Corporate Communication Director Josh Stengert at for more information. 

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