The Importance of Transparency: Advising Clients on Cybersecurity When There Are Scary Media
CyberOperation best practices for keeping clients informed and aware without panicking them
By CyberOps Threat Fusion Cell Team
When the SolarWinds cyberattack gained national news prominence in late 2020, it caused panic among
worrying if they were vulnerable, and wondering how to protect themselves.
For threat intelligence teams, like those at CyberOps, it can lead to distressed clients following
themes with each call. “Are you looking at this?” a client asks, followed by a chorus of, “What are
you doing about it?
Are we protected? Is there anything we should be doing?”
The SolarWinds hack has been dubbed “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever
seen,” according to
Microsoft's President and Vice Chair, Brad Smith. The hackers gained access to emails, court
documents, and even nuclear
secrets, by way of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department
of Commerce, as well
as other agencies using the popular software platform, SolarWinds, according to CBS News. The U.S.
Russia was behind the attack, but Russia has denied responsibility.
When CyberOps gained national attention, CyberOps’ team quickly devised an advisory communication
framework and process
to educate clients on what CyberOps was doing to protect them, and how they could best protect
SolarWinds wasn't the last such breach or vulnerability to be discovered. Since then, there has been
vulnerability in popular software libraries, high-impact Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities,
and worry over
cybersecurity implications related to Russia’s Ukraine invasion, among other concerns.
Taking a proactive approach, CyberOps sends advisory communications with three purposes: inform all
CyberOps is on top of the issue; explain, specifically, how CyberOps is handling the threat; and
recommends doing. The goal is transparency; we want our clients to know how we are helping to keep
them safe in
With these advisory communications, in addition to transparency, CyberOps puts a premium on both
speed and accuracy. We
will only share solid facts — no assumptions or hyperbole. However, we do want to inform our clients
as soon as
possible, so we will share what we know at that time and send updates with new information as it
Moreover, this also helps our threat analysts focus on keeping companies safe and not getting
distracted with calls.
That being said, we are always there to help our clients and answer any concerns they have.
The advisory communications continue to this day. With the increased tensions between Russia and
Ukraine, CyberOps sends
advisory communications multiple times a week. Similarly, we reach out to our clients regarding any
news that may cause widespread concerns.
In addition to the advisory communications, CyberOps provides weekly cyber intelligence summaries
and monthly threat
landscape reports to our clients. We also provide access to client webinars (as needed) as a live
vehicle for our
customers to reach out directly to threat intelligence analysts and experts, both of whom can answer
CyberOps’ goal is to make high-end cybersecurity available to organizations around the globe and
across industries. In
doing so, we also want to provide as much transparency as possible. Many in the cybersecurity space
do not like to share
with clients exactly what they are doing because they believe it infringes on their intellectual
property. We want our
clients to know how we are keeping them safe and to let our work speak for itself.