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July 06, 2011

PRSA Advocates for Increasing Business Disclosure in Cyberattacks in New York Times Letter to the Editor

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) had a letter to the editor ofThe New York Times published July 5, 2011, in response to a June 30 editorial addressing a surge in the number of high-profile cyberattacks on businesses and governments and the impact that could have on customer data and public safety. In its letter, PRSA advocated for increased and more timely disclosure from businesses that have been hacked to ensure customers have necessary information about their data.

Letter: Enhancing Online Security
Published: July 5, 2011

To the Editor:

The Cloud Darkens” (editorial, June 30) rightly advocates for increasing online security, but doesn’t mention a key component missing from most proposals to thwart cyberattacks: increased disclosure from hacked companies regarding the impact on customer data.

The revelation that the online document-storage service Dropbox tried to hide a glitch in its network that allowed any user to log into any account is but one of several examples of companies failing to adequately disclose vital information about customer data, how it is being used and what steps are being taken to mitigate the effects of cyberattacks.

The need for greater disclosure is clear: cyberattacks represent one of the greatest challenges facing modern businesses and are costly to economies and society alike. According to a 2004 report by the Congressional Research Service, targeted companies suffer an average loss in stock market valuation of between $50 million and $200 million, with total consumer and business losses estimated at more than $200 billion a year.

We may never be able to eradicate the pernicious effects of cyberattacks. But we can ensure that the public is not victimized twice, by pushing for more timely and transparent disclosure from affected companies. Anything less allows the hackers to win, while the public continues to lose.

Chairwoman and Chief Executive
Public Relations Society of America
New York, Jue 30, 2011



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