Ransomware: How Comms Should Respond


Over the weekend, news broke that over 200,000 computers in 150 countries had been hacked by ransomware virus ‘WannaCry.’ Included in these 200,000 computers were those belonging to the NHS. This cyber attack paralyzed corporations and individuals by manipulating a flaw in the 16-year-old software Microsoft XP, which was operating without the latest security update installed. 

The situation was resolved thanks to both an amateur malware tech star who triggered the ‘kill switch’, and Microsoft issuing a patch to protect Microsoft XP users who were unlikely to update their software.

However, with every cyber attack there is always another, larger hacker ready to release a new attack on the world and in lieu of the present and future threats, in-house communicators need to prepare for instantly triggering their strategies.

Security breaches are an unfortunate opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless. And by regularly reviewing and updating crisis strategies, companies can increase their brand awareness with a holy trinity of messaging: engaging, targeted and informative.


Understanding your customers and obtaining insights about the audience you are addressing is critical for any external conversation as it allows brands to tailor messages to reflect the different demographics, and create sensitive content that will avoid the risk of public scepticism.


When presenting solutions globally, companies need to know the facts and details – not only the necessary soundbites. The first step is to introduce regular conversations between communication teams and internal departments about crisis messaging and its overall goals. By informing stakeholders and the relevant spokespeople/person, the solutions provider will be able to communicate favourable and persuasive arguments to the media and the targeted audience.


As brands are increasingly opting for a two-way dialogue on social media, communicators must be prepared to create engaging content that will maintain transparency about a situation but continually direct the conversations back to the company’s expertise.

Indeed, organizations must be careful about what they declare at any given moment as these situations change so rapidly. Brands that maintain an informed and open dialogue with external parties about what they are doing to fix any problems will drive the best outcomes.