12th December 2017
Hering Schuppener Consulting establishes Cyber-Attack Task Force for Crisis Communications
Düsseldorf/Berlin, 12/12/2017 – Every year approximately 80 to 90 million cyber-attacks are reported worldwide. Estimated annual damage: 50 billion euros in Germany alone. When attackers target sensitive data or shut down a company's system, the first line of defense requires the skill and experience of IT experts. From the very first moment, however, such attacks also have legal implications – be it in the form of statutory reporting obligations (which will become significantly more stringent within the EU from 2018 onwards), liability issues or penalties under the criminal law.
“In addition to IT and legal risks, cyber-attacks also pose risks that should not be underestimated for an asset with which we at Hering Schuppener are particularly well versed: the reputation of a company,” says Dirk von Manikowsky, Partner at the Special Situations Team of the communications consultancy in Düsseldorf. “As with traditional crisis issues, such as restructuring, legal disputes or product liability cases, proper communications is becoming increasingly important in critical cyber incidents. And with that, the need for consulting is growing.”
Hering Schuppener has now bundled the competencies for this field in an interdisciplinary task force. “Depending on the type of incident, we bring to the table the know-how from classic crisis communications, specific industry experience from the IT sector and the knowledge of our digital team. A global response is necessary as cyber-attacks almost always operate within an international context,” explains von Manikowsky. “This comprehensive approach has already proved its worth several times in the past year, which was most recently highlighted in our case regarding a vendor of security solutions for the financial sector that was confronted by a hack. While our client focused entirely on analyzing and solving the problem, we concentrated on making the necessary communication decisions and thus made a decisive contribution to prevent damage to customers and the company itself.”
According to Raphael Neuner, Managing Director at the Berlin-based Digital Practice of Hering Schuppener, the rise in the number of shocking reports of attacks from cyberspace is also leading to increased sensitivity among corporate executives. “The awareness that there is no absolute security in the digital space is now generally understood. This makes it all the more important to deal with real or alleged security incidents in a communicative manner. Stakeholders need to see: The company cares, shares information as transparently as possible and mobilizes all necessary resources to help affected customers and business partners in the best possible way,” says Neuner. “This is quite a challenge. If a company discovers the first signs of a breach, in many cases the dimension of the attack is unknown and it is unclear whether data has been stolen and who, furthermore, is responsible for the attack. However, these are precisely the questions that the public wants answered as quickly as possible.”
“If a crisis strikes an unprepared company, communications can usually only minimize damage,” says Dirk von Manikowsky. “We therefore recommend that not only the IT department, but also that Corporate Communications be systematically prepared for cyber incidents. This should be an integrated approach, which takes the legal dimension into account from the outset.” To this end, Hering Schuppener cooperates with the renowned law firm Allen & Overy on cyber-attacks. Together, we offer communications and legal advice from a single point of contact and develop interdisciplinary crisis strategies and legally sound communications materials for our clients’ crisis preparedness and response.
“It is our claim to help a company lessen the damage to its reputation when confronted with a data loss. Protecting reputation in the event of cyber-attacks is a growing consulting field for us, which we will expand step-by-step and in cooperation with our international partners,” says von Manikowsky.
Dirk von Manikowsky
Hering Schuppener Consulting
T: +49 (0) 211 430 79 265
M: +49 (0) 171 120 12 16
About Hering Schuppener
Hering Schuppener Consulting is one of the leading communications consultancies in Continental Europe and the clear market leader in Germany, with offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt as well as an office in Brussels. Hering Schuppener has specialized in strategic communications solutions for companies in mission-critical situations such as M&A transactions, IPOs, restructuring and change processes as well as crises. Moreover, the company advises its clients on a continuous basis in reinforcing their reputation and managing their brand, in management and controlling of international communications activities, in issues related to corporate campaigning and corporate affairs, CEO positioning, digital corporate communication and transformation as well as in long-term press and investor relations activities.
Hering Schuppener Consulting, Finsbury and The Glover Park Group (GPG) have formed a strategic partnership. With 15 offices and more than 500 consultants, the companies have created one of the very few global platforms for integrated strategic communications advice, providing clients with sophisticated counsel and seamless execution, regardless of geography. The firms have advised on nearly 1,500 transactions with a total value of more than US$ 2 trillion in the last 10 years alone.