The recent cyber attack that impacted Optus is a timely reminder for the aged care sector to not only be vigilant in their approach to IT but to also have a communications response strategy should an attack occur. Health Care is particularly vulnerable to attack, with many aged care providers having already fallen victim. This guest post by Jessie Weatherley provides an important guide to key areas that a response strategy should follow.
Cyber security and protecting clients’ personal information are at the forefront of our minds right now. The focus for most businesses is the IT element, trying to ensure that we prevent cyber attacks and prevent our client data from being compromised. While prevention is always better than cure, we do need to accept that a breach may happen. Every business needs a plan of how they will deal with customer communications in the event of a breach of data.
This plan needs to be meticulously planned in advance because when a breach occurs, the most important thing is to ensure that you communicate with those affected as soon as possible. Therefore communication plans, templates and even written communication need to be planned and signed off in advance to ensure there are no red tape delays during the event.
Here are the top 5 things you should consider about your communications before and during a breach event to minimise the damage to your reputation with these clients.
Ensure that as soon as you are aware of the breach you communicate with your clients and their families. Don’t wait till you have the full picture, let them know there is a problem, you are taking it seriously and will let them know more as soon as you do. This open and honest communication will build trust.
2. Multi-channel communication
You need to ensure your plan covers communication across multiple channels. You have to consider that it may be one of your communication methods that have been compromised such as your website or email. In this case you need other ways of communicating. You also have to consider that not all clients and families will use the same channels; therefore, having a multi-channel approach will ensure more comprehensive coverage of the information in the most timely way. Consider the number of communication methods you currently have and look at whether you need some additional ones such as social media or text messaging.
3. Regular updates
You may not have much to say, but ensure you are giving them regular updates. They will understandably be apprehensive about the situation so ensure that you are keeping them updated. This should also reduce calls and emails into other areas of the business that aren’t equipped to handle these enquiries.
4. Be open and honest
People don’t take kindly to being lied to or having a bad situation sugar-coated. Don’t try and deceive about how the breach occurred or try and minimise the damage done. Customers respect honesty.
Make sure you are clear on communicating how you are resolving the issue and then again once the issue has been resolved. Make sure you include what you are doing to quantify and rectify any damage done. Most importantly you need to communicate actions you have put in place to prevent another occurrence of this breach.
We are in a world where it is a struggle to keep up with the latest in cyber security challenges. The sophistication of hackers is growing. Breaches will occur, and while you need to do everything you can to prevent them, you need to be pragmatic in your approach and ensure that you have a solid plan of communication in the event that a breach occurs.