The internet is a dangerous place—and unfortunately, anyone can be a victim of online harassment, sextortion, or other targeted internet attacks. Whether you are an executive, a business owner, or an individual who has been impersonated or blackmailed online, it is important to understand how to monitor and protect your reputation after a cyberattack.
Both individuals and businesses can take the following steps to restore and bolster their reputations after a cyberattack:
- Monitor the web for digital threats by using Google Alerts or a comprehensive digital monitoring service;
- Take charge of all online profiles and entities such as business listings, domains, and social media accounts;
- Curate a positive online presence by crafting targeted brand or personal content;
- Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) or online reputation management strategies to improve search engine results; and
- Reach out to an internet defamation attorney to eliminate damaging content, impersonation profiles, and threats to your online assets.
At Minc Law, we have proven experience helping our clients monitor the internet for digital threats. Our Digital Risk Protection service detects digital threats including impersonation accounts, social media account threats, and targeted attacks to their digital footprint, and eliminates them at the source, enabling individuals and brands to comprehensively protect their online reputations and brands.
In this article, we explain how cyberattacks do lasting damage to both individual and business reputations. We then lay out tips for responding to a cyberattack and rebuilding your reputation afterward.
How Reputations Can Be Damaged By Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks can happen both rapidly and over time. Either way, they can have immediate, devastating effects—causing their victims to scramble and panic.
Below, we address the most dangerous types of cyberattacks and how they can affect you.
What Types of Cyberattacks Can Affect Your Reputation?
Many clients of our digital risk protection (DRP) service have experienced the following types of cyberattacks:
- Web sextortion and blackmail,
- Hacks and confidential information leakages,
- Compromised credentials (such as credit card or social security information),
- Domain spoofing and domain squatting,
- Accounts impersonating the victim,
- Social media threats, and
- Harmful content posted to the dark web.
Since cyberattacks can take many shapes and originate in many places around the web, it is critical to have more than just a Google Alert on your side.
What is the Reputational Risk of Cyberattacks?
In a word, cyberattacks can be catastrophic.
Due to the snowball effect of the online world, even the smallest online attack can go viral and lead to massive publicity. A malicious online review or post to a relatively obscure shaming site can spread like wildfire through social media.
These cyberattacks can have far-reaching consequences for your personal and business life. Depending on the nature of the attack, you might face the following:
- Damaged or ruined personal relationships,
- Reputational harm,
- Job loss,
- Lost customers and revenue for your business, and
- Severe psychological harm.
Are you the target of defamation?
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Reputational Risk & Impact on Businesses
According to a Gartner study published in 2022, 88% of companies consider cybersecurity a business risk—and 56% of customers are concerned with the cybersecurity of businesses they patronize.
Data breaches are the most common cyberattacks affecting businesses. Because they can harm your customers directly, they are a major risk to your reputation and bottom line. Reputational damage can even impact your relationships with suppliers, partners, investors, and other third parties with an interest in your business.
In this day and age, you and your customers are always at risk of being targeted for a cyberattack. If your business cannot prove that it takes data security seriously, you risk losing your customers’ trust, and ultimately, their business.
For businesses, reputation is a critical element of success. If a customer cannot trust you, they are more likely to take their business elsewhere—which is why your business needs to do everything it can to mitigate reputational risk.
Impact of Cyberattacks on Individuals
For individuals, a cyberattack can impact your online reputation, your financial health, and your mental state.
For example, a hacker may obtain your login information and take control of your financial accounts. Or perhaps an attacker may impersonate you on social media, making statements you would never make and devastating your reputation.
Some cyberattacks involve data breaches that can expose you to fraud and identity theft. These attackers might harass you themselves, or simply sell your data to other criminals on the dark web. These dark-web criminals often make a business out of enterprise attacks involving stolen data, with scams including:
- Identity theft,
- Bitcoin scams,
- Credit card fraud, and
- Phishing scams.
How Individuals & Businesses Can Help Prevent Cyberattacks
When you are online, there is always the chance of becoming a cyberattack victim. These criminals’ goal is to find information that can be used to exploit your weaknesses against you in nefarious ways.
In this section, we list actionable strategies for individuals and businesses to protect themselves from cyber assault.
How Can Individuals Minimize the Effects of Cyberattacks?
As an individual with an online presence, you should make it as difficult as possible for attackers to find sensitive information about you. We recommend taking the following actions, whether or not you have already been the victim of a cyberattack:
Lock Down Your Social Media
Set all of your social media accounts to private so that only your friends can see your posts and biographical information.
Do Not Engage in Online Chats With Strangers
You can never be sure if a person online is who they say they are. To be safe, exercise extreme caution whenever a stranger tries to start a private chat with you.
Do Not Send Intimate Images or Videos Online
Avoid engaging in sexting or sending intimate materials over the internet. These files might later be hacked and used to extort you.
Use Strong Passwords & Two-Factor Authentication
These techniques make it more difficult for hackers to impersonate you or access your personal and financial information. You may even want to use a quality password manager like Dashlane or LastPass to generate strong passwords for you and store them in an encrypted digital vault.
Never Click on Unknown Links in an Email
Some scammers send viruses or malware through emailed links. To protect yourself, never open an attachment or link in an email unless you know you can trust the sender.
Always Double-Check Emails That Contain Links
Even if you recognize the sender of an email containing a link, it is a good idea to double-check that their address is correct before clicking on it. Some sophisticated scammers use an email address in your address book, but with one or two letters changed.
How Can Businesses Minimize The Effects of Cyberattacks
Compared to individuals, businesses generally need to take even more preemptive safety measures against cyberattacks.
Cybercrime has increased 600% since the Covid-19 pandemic, and the average cost of a data breach rose $4.24 million in 2021. These attacks are not just a concern for large corporations; more than half of all cyberattacks target small and medium businesses.
To protect your business against cyber threats, we recommend taking the following preemptive measures:
Implement a Crisis Management Plan
A good reputation crisis management plan can help you prepare for and respond to cyberattacks quickly. When developing your plan, make it a priority to secure all of your operating procedures—and remember that even small businesses are not immune to cyberattacks.
Use Strong Passwords & Two-Factor Authentication
Ensure every employee uses secure password practices to protect your data at every level of your organization. Again, tools like Dashlane and LastPass can handle strong password generation and secure storage across departments.
Teach Safe Email Practices
Your organization should regularly receive training on how to avoid phishing scams. Teach everyone to double-check email addresses before clicking on links and to never send sensitive information (like passwords) over email.
Update Your Software Regularly
Outdated systems are more vulnerable to cyberattacks, which is why you should keep all of your software up-to-date.
Set up a Firewall
Putting your network behind a firewall helps to secure sensitive customer and business data from brute-force attacks.
How Can Large Companies Prevent Cyberattacks and Breaches?
The best way to defend against cyberattacks is to prevent them from happening in the first place. If you have a large organization, your focus should be on building reliable systems to protect your most valuable data across networks.
Start by investing in strong monitoring and access management software that employs role-based control. This type of software tracks which employees accessed what data and when, which makes it much simpler to track down the source of a breach.
Then, pay attention to your relationships with third parties like suppliers and vendors. There may be points of vulnerability along your supply chain that, if not protected against, can affect your business’s reputation.
Finally, apply Zero Trust policies across your organization. Every employee or contractor should receive only the level of role permissions to get their jobs done. Do not allow any new users into your network without upper-level approval.
What Should Small Businesses Do to Prevent Reputational Damage From Cyberattacks?
The best way to protect your small business against cyberattacks is to train each employee to identify threats before they happen. Conduct regular training sessions to educate staff on the signs of a phishing email, and ensure that each employee uses strong passwords.
You should also invest in security software to protect your internet-connected devices from viruses and malware. Also, be sure to scan any new USB devices with security software before using them.
Finally, use encryption to protect your most sensitive files. Use secure data transmission practices so that your business and customer data is protected from all but the most determined hackers.
How to Recover Your Reputation After A Cyberattack
Even the best precautions are sometimes not enough to prevent a cyberattack. If you or your business has been targeted by a data breach, you must act swiftly to stop the damage.
In this section, we explain how to rebuild your reputation after a cyberattack, whether as an individual or a business.
Steps Individuals Can Take to Recover Their Reputation After a Cyberattack
Create a Google Alert
Prospective customers, employers, and romantic partners often start with a Google search of your name before deciding to interact with you. In order to protect your reputation, it is important that you regularly monitor your online footprint.
Set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever your name (or your business’s name) is mentioned online. Monitoring your online presence is crucial to fixing a damaged reputation.
Monitor For & Remove Digital Threats
Next, search your social media accounts for any inappropriate posts, comments, or photos. Even if you have maximized your privacy settings, interested parties can still find your public post history.
Review your past posts and consider removing anything that you now consider offensive or inappropriate.
Curate a Positive Online Presence
Sometimes, the best way to rebuild your reputation after a cyberattack is to suppress negative content with positive content. Curate content that represents the person or brand image you want to display to the world.
For example, you might start a personal YouTube channel or podcast with constructive content displaying your positive attributes. Or if you are rebuilding your business’s reputation, you may build a branded blog that demonstrates your authority in your niche.
Reach Out to an Experienced Internet Defamation Attorney
Negative and harmful online content can be difficult to remove alone. An experienced internet defamation attorney like those at Minc Law can help you respond to cyberattacks swiftly to minimize lasting damage to your reputation.
Steps Businesses Can Take to Recover Their Reputation After a Cyberattack
Encourage Positive Reviews From Satisfied Customers
Some cyberattacks against businesses lead to negative publicity and a corresponding influx of negative reviews. In this case, you may be able to maintain your average star rating by receiving positive reviews as well.
Start encouraging your satisfied customers to leave reviews—and make it as easy as possible for them. After a customer visits your business, you might send a thank-you email along with a link for them to leave a review.
Take Charge of Your Business’s Online Profiles
Your business listing on Google or Yelp is often the first thing someone sees when they search for your business online. Since your Google listing is essentially your online business card, you should treat it as such.
Claiming your profile lets you update your business information and respond to reviews—even the bad reviews. Keep in mind that if you are a medical or legal professional who is bound by confidentiality obligations, we generally do not recommend responding to online reviews.
Create Targeted & Branded Content
Along with taking charge of your business profile on review sites, you may also want to create your own content to improve your digital footprint.
Maintaining an active social media presence, creating industry-related blog posts, and producing original video marketing content presents a positive brand image and encourages consumers to do business with you.
Use SEO Techniques to Manage Your Google Search Results
Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your business’s branded content rank higher in search results than damaging content containing related keywords.
If you are the subject of defamatory online content, you do not want it to appear in Google search results above your own website. An online reputation management professional can develop a sound SEO strategy to ensure your Google search results reflect your brand image.
Contact a Brand Attorney or Internet Defamation Lawyer
If you are the target of malicious cyberattacks, you should not try to weather the storm alone.
An experienced internet defamation attorney like the attorneys at Minc Law can partner with your business to combat online harassment. They can advise you on your options, devise a legal strategy, and take action on your business’s behalf.
To learn more about how an experienced internet defamation attorney can help you restore your business’s online reputation, see our article: Hire an Attorney as Your Online Reputation Expert.
How Can Businesses Put Customers at Ease After a Cyberattack?
After your business has been the target of defamation or a data breach, it can be difficult to regain customers’ trust. It may be natural to try to downplay and obscure the incident, but the best strategy is to be as transparent and authentic as possible.
In your public statements about the incident, start by expressing empathy and compassion. If your customers have been affected by a data breach, take full responsibility and issue a heartfelt apology for the harm they suffered.
Then, clearly explain what happened, and list specific instructions for checking the status of the customers’ data. Describe the actions you are taking to address the problem and prevent it from being repeated. Without assurances that your company is making real change, your customers will struggle to trust you in the future.
Strategies to Monitor Your Reputation After a Cyberattack
Rebuilding your reputation after a cyber assault can be an uphill battle. But with the proper tools and support system, it is possible to regain your customers’ trust and protect your digital footprint moving forward.
What Things Should You Be Looking for While Monitoring Your Brand After a Cyberattack?
If your business has been the subject of a cyber assault, shore up your defenses and be on the lookout for more harassment. Start by familiarizing yourself with the following common types of cyberattacks:
- Data leaks: Sensitive and confidential data stolen or copied by an unauthorized individual;
- CEO fraud: Hackers impersonate trusted executives in an attempt to coerce sensitive information or money from employees, customers, or partners;
- Brand impersonation: A phishing scam where hackers impersonate a company to trick customers or employees into disclosing sensitive information or money;
- Domain fraud: Cybercriminals impersonate a brand using spoofed domains in order to divert website traffic, sell fraudulent products, or run a phishing scam against customers;
- Malware and ransomware: Viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and other malicious software designed to copy, steal, or corrupt sensitive business information or customer data.
While your business is recovering from the reputational harm caused by a cyberattack, you should also be on the lookout for other causes of reputational risk. During your recovery, you will be even more vulnerable to other risk factors like organizational failures, supply chain interruptions, and negative PR.
Is your executive reputation in need of a boost? Uncover the keys to success in our informative article, ‘Executive Reputation Management: Strategies for Protecting and Enhancing Your Personal Brand.’
What Services Can You Use to Monitor Your Reputation After a Cyberattack?
Depending on your situation and goals, several services are available to help you restore and monitor your reputation after a cyber assault, including:
- A digital risk protection (DRP) service,
- An internet defamation attorney, and
- Online reputation management (ORM) services.
Consider Digital Risk Protection Services
For cyberattack and web extortion victims, one of the most common worries is that harmful content could be published on the internet without your knowledge.
At Minc Law, we offer comprehensive digital risk protection (DRP), an added layer of surveillance that monitors for any mention of your name on the internet. The service identifies and responds to online threats before they can take shape. When a crisis does occur, we devise an effective strategy to minimize the damage.
Work With an Experienced Internet Defamation & Online Harassment Attorney
An experienced internet defamation attorney can help you devise a strategy for dealing with online harassment. The right attorney for you should be well-versed in combating cyberattacks, as well as removing harmful and defamatory content.
Utilize Online Reputation Management Services
Online reputation management (ORM) is a holistic service that uses multiple techniques, tools, and strategies to influence search engine results and shape your online reputation. Minc Law’s ORM service uses a variety of legal, public relations, SEO, and marketing strategies to help curate and bolster a positive reputation for your or your business.
What Tools Can You Use to Monitor Your Reputation After a Cyberattack?
While it is best to have the help of reputation management professionals, you can use some tools to start rebuilding your reputation on your own. These tools include:
- Google Alerts. This tool is free and easy to use for keeping tabs on when keywords (like your name) appear online;
- Review solicitation tools. Services like Birdeye and ReviewInc let you ask customers to review your business;
- Review management tools. Services like ReviewPush and Podium let you manage reviews and interact with customers;
- Social media buzz tools. Apps like Social Mention and Sprout Social track social media mentions and conversations around you or your brand;
- Social media management tools. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite let you schedule and post positive content to your social media channels;
- SEO tools. Platforms like SEMrush and Ahrefs help you improve your website’s search rankings and domain authority.
Minc Law Can Help Protect Your Digital Footprint
At Minc Law, we understand the catastrophic effects a cyberattack can have on you or your brand’s reputation. We have extensive experience helping both individuals and businesses shore up their digital footprints, identify and remove cyber threats, and implement effective strategies to bolster their online reputations.
If you are ready to take the next step to protect your digital assets and profiles with our Digital Risk Protection Service, please visit our website to enroll or learn more.
“Dorrian was prompt, professional, understood my concerns, and acted swiftly and decisively to help solve my issue.””
Dr. Anthony J P
Dec 16, 2021
If you are the target of internet defamation or online harassment, you can schedule a no-obligation consultation with an intake specialist by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.