You will get hacked. So have a strategy in place.

21 Oct You will get hacked. So have a strategy in place.

Image from TechCrunch

It’s doubtful that any of the companies we work with use Snapchat for business purposes. While Snapchat has its place in business, and can be used by organizations for marketing and advertising purposes – those companies tend to be more consumer focused and unsurprisingly, not B2B or B2G.

That said, the recent Snapchat breach likely did not have a major effect on businesses in general. What it did bring to light however, is that it is no longer an issue of IF an online platform or application will be hacked – but WHEN. And how your business can be prepared and by avoiding scandal all together when a hacking occurs.

We live in a time when everything put online (both private and public facing) needs to have a strategy associated with it and cannot be just “thrown up there.” It should be thought through and double-checked for accuracy, grammar and potential reactions.

As Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said, “the internet needs a delete button,” and that sometimes erasure is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, that button doesn’t exist. We are all familiar with stories of people or organizations tweeting things they shouldn’t have or private email messages and inside jokes being published without the sender’s knowledge or permission. Even if it was deleted, the damage is done because of the Internet’s permanent memory.

Because of the nature of the beast, something posted online that originated as a private message, and was never intended to be seen by the general public, could eventually be released to the world thanks to hackers. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence about that. Everything said on the Internet is archived and regardless of your attempts to control or delete it – once it has been sent into cyberspace there is always that chance it will be dug up if people have enough motive to do so.

Online behavior policies aren’t just limited to corporate accounts either. No longer are companies’ faceless entities that go down as a whole. Now, with a few clicks of a mouse, anyone can find out who the executives are at any given company – and find out a good bit about their personal lives without so much as batting an eye. Businesses can be held culpable for the information that people put online personally – upping the pressure to make sure social media policies are put in place and followed by each and every employee. An executive’s personal Snapchat can have extremely damaging effects on a company if it is hacked and the content is not what would be deemed appropriate.

One rule of thumb both for personal and business accounts is to make sure everything put online passes the “New York Times test.” If you are considering posting an item online – whether it is a Facebook Post, Tweet, blog post or press release – ask yourself how you would feel if it were published in the New York Times that day. If you wouldn’t feel confortable with it, don’t post. That’s not to say that controversial posts should always be avoided, but just spend the extra time thinking about what the possible reaction and backlash could be from the opposition.

Finally, develop a reaction plan. Inevitably, a hack or mistake will happen that will affect your company’s online presence. The key is to be prepared for it. Ideally, if you are strategic about what is put online, the damage will be minimal. But when the issue does arise, the quicker a company is able to get in front of it, the less damage will be done. While discussing potential situations may be futile given the vast range of issues that could occur, companies should at very least have a plan of attack around which executive, legal team members and public relations professionals will be brought in the loop to mitigate the situation.

While it is less than ideal, to say the least, that even the most private of emails could potentially be made public – it is something that needs to be thought about. While no one can completely censor their online activity, the damage can be far less if precautions are taken and strategies are thought through. The reality is, hackers are moving faster that safeguards in many cases, and the best way to avoid embarrassment is to not have anything worth hacking.


Kathryn Kaplan
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