As we become more reliant on the digital world, PR pros continue to face tough challenges. The rise of the internet and social media have made it easier to spread a message. At the same time, they make it harder for PR pros to be heard and work on damage control.
It’s tough to get the right story to the right people with the myriad of social media platforms online. And, more often than not, failure results in PR facing the heat from clients and receiving poor appreciation of the profession among public and organizational leaders.
Choosing the right channels, measuring the impact each will create, and then ensuring the news reaches the right audience at the correct time. It’s not easy, tipping on your toes literally all-day, in a fight or flight mindset. Yet, the job is undervalued.
Not many know that PR pros literally put their own safety and reputation at risk to meet the demands of clients. The rise of the internet has led to an influx of cybercriminals that may attack PR practitioners, who are just doing their work.
Cybercriminals Are the Bane of Public Relations
With hacker attacks occurring every 39 seconds, thousands of data breaches per day, and 16.7 million identity fraud victims in the U.S. alone for the year 2017, the risks associated with handling the PRs of companies that have suffered a hacking attempt can’t be stressed more.
Usually, when a company is hacked, they hire PR professionals for damage control. This makes public relation officers vulnerable to privacy breaches, cyberstalking, or even loss of financial data caused by identity theft, ransomware, or a malware attack.
During the next five years, cybercrime may even become the biggest threat to every person, place or thing in this world. Already, large scale DDoS attacks have increased by 500% and over 75% of the healthcare industry had been infected with malware in 2018.
As technology evolves, hackers do too, and that means we need to strengthen our security. As such, understanding cyber threats, opportunities, and terminology is essential for PR professionals, working across all industries.
How Can PR Professionals Protect Themselves from Online Threats?
The PR industry has adapted to the digital world quite remarkably. However, they also need to adjust to the rise of cyber threats that come with it. The only way to be safe and not sorry is to become more Cyber Aware and start adapting online safety protocols:
1. Use a Privacy Tool like a VPN Service
VPNs are incredibly useful tools for PR professionals, as they grant them anonymity on public and private networks. They encrypt your connection, making it impossible for hackers to get access to sensitive data on your smartphones or laptops.
At the same time, VPNs protect you from the prying eyes of government entities and cybercriminals, who may want to interfere with your PR campaign. So, if you want to receive all-round security, do consider investing in a dependable VPN service.
2. Utilize Two-Factor Authentication
Abbreviated as 2FA, Two-factor authentication is a useful method for securing the way you log into sites. It adds an additional layer of verification like a One-Time-Password (OTP) sent to your smartphone, or a code from Google Authenticator, valid for a limited time.
3. Get a Password Manager Tool like LastPass
Since PR professionals have to create campaigns for different platforms online, they are constantly juggling between remember old passwords and creating new ones to log into their accounts.
If you relate to this frustrating issue, you might want to consider getting LastPass. It manages all your passwords, PINs, and other sensitive info for quick recall.
4. Use a Firewall and Antivirus Software
The last thing any PR professional wants is falling victim to dangerous malware, ransomware, or antivirus that could erase all sensitive data or files on a particular PR strategy. Keep all your devices protected via firewall and antivirus software for adware, malware, and spyware attacks!
5. Be Careful About What You Post Online
As a PR professional, it’s your job to keep certain news out of the reach of the public, as to not damage a concrete strategy for damage mitigation or product promotion. Even if you keep your work and public social media accounts separate, be careful about posting potentially revealing information.
Cybercriminals are clever and utilize open-source intelligence (OSINT) to find information that could lead to your account being taken over or damage your PR strategy. Always be vigilant on what you post online. Never reveal personal information.
Wrapping Things Up
In this fast-paced world we live in, online privacy is increasingly becoming important for workers in all professions. However, the impact in PR is far more than any other industry combined, as everything revolves around news spreading online.
If you work in the PR industry, it’s necessary to be open to change and adopt safer practices to receive protection from this epidemic of cyberattacks.