Cybersecurity is a burning issue in 2019, especially among media. From a niche hushed topic, it has definitely crawled its way to become a common trend in the current age.
As cyber attacks pile on the top of the news, it has become more and more crucial to understand what exactly they mean, and how reporters cover this space.
With that in mind, in February I attended an interactive media panel with leading experts in cyber technology. The panelists for the event, Nicole Perlroth, cybersecurity reporter at The New York Times, Iain Thomson, journalist at The Register and Joseph Menn, technology reporter at Reuters, were lively and engaging, never hesitant to voice out what they really think about their journey in covering cyber-tech.
The panelists brought a sense of wit and interest to the table. Joining many other PR professionals eager to know about the intricacies of the cyberspace, I enjoyed learning about the panel’s varied experiences covering privacy and data for many years now.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.
Cybersecurity has been an important topic for many years now, but today security and privacy has become a topic that has hit mainstream consciousness. According to our panelists, this consumer awareness has been highly rewarding for them.
We care about evaluation, accessibility, but somehow we tend to neglect privacy which is an important aspect of the digital world. To our panelists, the issue is gaining momentum in awareness and will continue to do so in the next few years.
Imagine you have all your important and private information in your brown leather journal. Now imagine it being stolen!
A data breach of your personal data can be one of the worst things that could happen to anyone. It could lead to blackmail and we need to worry about that. Iain noted, “From a corporate perspective, the nasty trojans and virus attacks can come from anywhere and shut down the whole website down.
If people worried more about this issue, we would be careful, our panelists pointed out.
According to Joseph, distilling complicated technologies into stories that the average person can understand is one of the biggest challenges as a journalist. “That’s my career,” Joseph said. “I find the most important complicated new thing and explain in English – so people care.”
It can be very difficult to take a term like “patch management” and explain it to a mass audience. However, it is always easy for them if there’s a public policy aspect included in the story (e.g. your information being stolen) because it is easier for the reporters to make their viewers understand what exactly is happening.
For the reporters on the panel, they are still trying to understand what’s relevant and how they can make it easier for us to consume news in this space.
With the growing attacks over the internet, are we comfortable sacrificing privacy for the sake of innovation?
I don’t know. I think innovation takes precedence over privacy. With innovation, we develop further. Who knows, we can come up with better solutions to cyber attacks in the next few years. The panelists sided with my perception too.
Iain, however, brought an interesting point to the discussion. Innovation is simply doing something in a unique way. But, with easy access to breaking into others’ data, de-scraping other ideas to make your own can be easily possible. That’s not how we innovate. That should not become the status quo.
When it comes to privacy and security, there’s a lot to understand and discuss. But knowing how media considers this is always beneficial for a PR pro to analyze the current landscape.
The discussion definitely got me thinking if I was neglecting privacy myself. I hope this blog post leaves you with good takeaways to ponder about, as well.