Vodafone Portugal: The Attack on Brand Reputations and Public Confidence Through Cybercrime

Companies must prepare effective, data-driven threat-response strategies as they monitor for reputational risks as well as cyberattacks.

In the recent cyberattack targeting Vodafone on Feb. 7, the telecommunications company’s services were disrupted — including some emergency services in Portugal, such as ambulances and fire response teams.

However, the impact of this attack spread far beyond the temporary disruption to critical services: Propaganda and misinformation spread as a result of the growing polarization of the geopolitical environment during this time of cyberattacks and public unrest. Vodafone is among the private sector’s latest victims of the damaging reputational impact of cybercrime — and it won’t be the last.

The increasing sophistication of cyberattacks continues to cripple governments, companies, and critical services, with no end in sight. Coupling this with public anxiety around increased tensions among countries, cybercriminals have a frightening opportunity to disrupt the reputations of private critical-infrastructure companies, undermine public trust, and disseminate dangerous propaganda narratives.

People Are Talking
In the week following Vodafone’s breach, conversations related to the company’s cyber attack skyrocketed online. A rapid, real-time snapshot of the digital public conversation related to Vodafone Portugal showed that nearly 13,000 conversations reaching an audience of over 13 million users instantly produced a complex and critical debate regarding Vodafone. In the resulting digital sphere related to the affected company, three out of five conversations related to Vodafone and the cyberattack mentioned the attack or the resulting service failure. This is where hybrid information operations are most barbed — the reputational impact and discord generated in the aftermath of the digital conversation can often be more damaging than the incident itself. Read more:https://bit.ly/3tLeMjm

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