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If Your Business is Hit by Ransomware, How can You Communicate?

5 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Jan 17, 2020 7:42:00 AM

The advent of modern technology has made businesses increasingly dependent on computers and the internet. From storing confidential data to making sales pitches - your business requires computer systems for almost every task. Moreover, you likely use internet-based communication systems to communicate with your employees, clients, and other stakeholders. Unfortunately, the growing dependence on technology also puts you at the risk of cyberattacks.

A ransomware attack is one of the most common cybersecurity threats that can affect businesses of any size and nature. In simple terms, ransomware is a malware that blocks access to certain files or locks you out of your computer. The only way to restore access is to pay a ransom to the attacker. The attack could be confined to a few systems or plague an entire network of computers.

Irrespective of the scale of a ransomware attack, it can bring your business to a standstill. Apart from stalling regular business operations, it also jeopardizes crucial data such as employees’ contact details and clients’ information.

The 2017 Ransomware attack called WannaCry and NotPetya targeted organizations like Merck, which, in turn, lost millions of dollars.

In the absence of proper communication, such attacks can cause undue panic among your stakeholders. That is why it is crucial to maintain uninterrupted communication when your business suffers a ransomware attack. You must also have a plan in place to respond to the cyberattack quickly.

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The Importance of Communication

Maintaining flawless communication is one of the most critical steps of any crisis management plan. A ransomware attack isn’t an exception. The first priority is to inform your employees about the attack. Employees who haven’t been affected by the attack will be able to take precautionary steps to prevent it from spreading further.

It is also crucial to provide your employees with alternate communication channels to help them continue their work. Moreover, you must inform all your vendors and stakeholders about the breach. You must do this before the word gets out, and they know about the attack from the media. Failing to do so might end up costing you a few clients, which will adversely affect your revenue.

Here are a few steps you can take to communicate during a ransomware attack:

Use Offline Modes of Communication

Ransomware renders most of your usual communication channels useless. Moreover, using online channels such as email and instant messaging during a cyberattack can worsen its consequences. Instead, you should use traditional offline methods such as notices and memos for internal communication.

The first step is to print notices informing everyone about the attack and the steps to be taken. Next, you should display these notices at multiple locations in your office. If you can’t access a computer or printer, use handwritten notices to spread the word about the attack. Additionally, you should encourage employees to use telephone calls and SMS messages to communicate with each other.

Use an Emergency Notification System

Printed notices can help facilitate communication within the confines of an office. What happens when you have employees located across multiple offices in different cities? An effective solution is to send a mass alert using an emergency notification system. It will also help you inform clients and vendors about the attack.

It is crucial to ensure that the notification is comprehensive and includes details of how the attack occurred. It should also highlight the steps you are taking to recuperate from the attack and what the stakeholders can do to protect themselves. You should also outline the steps you will take to prevent such attacks in the future. The key is to be proactive and issue the alert as soon as possible.

Maintain Transparency

A cyberattack raises significant concerns about your company’s security systems. It puts your reputation into question and can adversely affect your relationship with your clients. The only way to revive your reputation is to be transparent about what happened.

Even if the breach occurred due to minor negligence on your part, don’t try to cover it up. Additionally, you should be transparent about the consequences of the attack and how it will affect your clients. It is also essential to ensure that your employees have complete information about the attack.

Be Responsive

A data breach causes panic and unrest among your stakeholders. Their minds will likely be flooded with various questions and concerns. It is crucial to provide them with a channel to reach out to you. The best way is to give them the phone numbers of your customer support team.

Make sure your customer support reps are constantly available on their phones. Additionally, you should provide them with adequate information to address any questions about the attack. It is also crucial to assign sufficient reps to handle calls from all your clients and vendors. The last thing a client wants in this scenario is to deal with a busy phone line.

Depending on the nature and extent of the attack, you may also use emails to communicate with stakeholders. However, you should ensure that you respond to any emails and queries as soon as you receive them. A delayed response can lead to further chaos and weaken your clients’ faith in your company.

Leverage Social Media

The vast reach of social media makes it an effective broadcasting medium. You can use it to inform your stakeholders about the attack. All you have to do is publish a post on your company’s official social media profiles. It will save you the trouble of individually inform each client and vendor.

It is, however, crucial to publish regular updates to inform stakeholders about your progress. You should also assign dedicated staff members who can respond to comments and messages from your followers.

Conclusion

In today’s day and age, no business is immune to ransomware attacks. Even if you develop the best security systems, cybercriminals will adapt their malware to break these systems. While your cybersecurity team works to control the attack, you can adopt a few measures to ensure that your business suffers minimal damage.

Ensuring uninterrupted and transparent communication is one of the most critical tasks in such a scenario. You can use a mass notification system to inform employees and stakeholders about the attack. Even the most basic office supplies, such as a pen and paper, can facilitate internal communication. You should also leverage social media to keep stakeholders updated.

Has your company ever experienced a ransomware attack? What steps did you take to communicate during the attack? Share your views in the comments section below.

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Topics: business continuity, Mass Notification System, RedFlag, IT Outage