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By: Dorothea Keck, Weissenbach PR
Cyber threats are almost as old as the idea of the modern computer. The first viruses had been developed and spread via floppy disks in the early ’80s. In 1988, the first Virus Construction Kit came into existence and enabled even beginners to assemble viruses with specific properties. The commercialization of the Internet and the rapid dissemination of internet connections in the 1990s paved the way for further success of hackers, crackers, viruses, worms, etc.
Now, in the 21st century, cybercrime has reached its preliminary peak: The growing proliferation of mobile computing and the increasing digitization hold significant challenges for IT security and offer to hackers a myriad of points of attack. Spam and phishing mails as well as sophisticated malware have turned into a profitable business model which causes multi-billion losses every year. The fact, that the internet has found its way into sensitive industries such as finance and healthcare reinforces the hacker´s militancy, as online banking, mobile payment apps or connected medical devices open the floodgates to profitable manipulations and data theft. In the dark web stolen credit card data or patient information are sold at premium prices. Especially highly targeted attacks against companies have increased enormously over the last years. Besides DDoS attacks, blackmailing and sabotage, particularly industrial espionage plays an important role – thanks to industry 4.0 and the ideas of the smart factory.
Growing requirements on IT security
The IT ecosystem has changed enormously in the last years and will continue to evolve rapidly in future. Thinking of all the headlines around attacks of the last months, it becomes clear that maintaining IT security is nowadays much more difficult than some years ago. In a connected world, where every year hundreds of thousands of new smartphones are sold and just as many new apps are released, we are inevitably faced with an ever-increasing number of vulnerabilities that lead to security leakage somehow.
This makes it all the more important for companies to develop a flexible security concept which identifies all critical risks and covers all vulnerabilities. Traditional security tools against traditional threats remain indispensible, but need to be supplemented by new innovative methods of defense. Today, IT security comprises many forms: From anti-virus software and anti-spy tools to firewalls, network security solutions, Mobile Device Management (MDM), cryptography, obfuscation and innovative application hardening technologies. Companies finally have to realize this instead of continuing to rely on proven but no longer sufficient methods.
How security PR can help
Besides the lack of resources and budgets, the main reason why companies still neglect their IT security is their ignorance of potential threats and available protection technologies. Today, security companies face the challenge of positioning themselves in in the jungle of various providers and approaches, differentiating from their supposed competitors and emphasizing their unique selling points. For them, target-oriented public relation has become more important than ever.
As a PR agency that has been working with IT security providers for many years now, we are fully aware of this challenge and well prepared to meet it. Here, public relations mean, first of all, educational work: Where are these risks? Which attack scenarios are possible? How can our customer´s solution minimize or eliminate the threats? Compared to the earlier times, the need of an explanation regarding IT security has increased. While the intent and purpose of traditional methods like anti-spam tools or virus scanners are even understood by laymen, this is no longer the case with innovative technologies like application runtime self-protection for example. In many cases it is necessary to explain the problem (threats, vulnerabilities) first, before starting with the actual product presentations.
For us, as the supporting agency, this means to first identify the right target media that are relevant for our clients and then to adequately communicate their content (through press releases, professional articles, breaking news comments, interviews or via social media). It is of major importance that technically sophisticated scenarios are presented in an understandable and comprehensible manner.
Strategic public relations can help IT security providers significantly sharpen awareness of cyber risks, show industry competence, create an extensive and continuous market visibility and finally convince their customers.