The incidents were the latest examples of what security experts call “reputational attacks” on media companies that publish material that the hackers disagree with. Such companies are particularly vulnerable to such attacks because many of them depend on online advertising and subscription revenue from Web sites that can be upended by the clicks of a hacker’s keyboard — and because unlike other targets, like government entities and defense contractors, they are less likely to have state-of-the-art security to thwart attacks.
As I was reading this article this morning on how several media companies were dealing with recent hackings, I noticed a call out box saying “So-called reputational attacks follow controversial reports.” The hackings over the past few days of news programs on public television came about because of negative stories that were clearly disliked by certain parties. I would underscore that most entities — government, military, corporate or otherwise — are having a very difficult time with hackers, privacy, leaked information, etc.
I was somewhat surprised when I saw “reputational attacks” in quotes as if this was a new label of sorts. Reputational attacks online have become commonplace and not just assaults on media companies. Either way, the most interesting element in the discussion on these “so-called reputational attacks” is the common refrain that they are usually the work of repressive governments. And these attacks are much more than reputation vandalism or Web site defacing. In fact, this is reputation warfare. No doubt about it.
The reputational risks that companies and organizations are increasingly facing continues to amaze me.