Attending a Florida Public Relations Association professional development session, seeing many of the state’s best PR pros in the room was thrilling.

Nanette Schimpf from Moore Communications Group; my man Rick Oppenheim (from RB Oppenheim Associates) and the main sponsor of the event, the rock-solid team at Sachs Media Group represented by Ryan Cohn and Jon Peck.

The event began with a breakfast that featured the most spectacular bacon, so I was ready for anything – bacon is power, bacon is motivation. (#BaconIsLife)

Speaking was Sandra Fathi, president of the public relations, social media and marketing firm Affect.

She is a Pro, who has been featured all over the news – CNN, Forbes, etc.

Fathi dove into a presentation on hacking, discussing the response should be from a PR perspective. Your client could be an elected official, airline, restaurant etc.

What happens when you are breached?

Fathi discussed the basics of cybercrime at first offering clear definitions of spear phishing, ransomware, DDOS attacks etc. and what they were.

She talked about the WannaCry ransomware from earlier in the month.

Then she lost me.

Fathi said something like, it is OK to pay the ransom from terrorists if infected.

Disagree.

In my opinion, you should never pay the ransom from these criminals. It only encourages them, encourages more people to get involved, (think organized crime in our state).

Hypothetically, the Genovese Crime Family launches a cyberattack using ransomware, they collect 50k in bitcoin and use the money to buy a couple of kilos of cocaine resale.

You get the picture; the domino effect of paying these types of things ravages our communities eventually.

The alternative is to invest in your technology. Dictate strict policies to your team in regard to password management, install antivirus/antispam products, set your firewall to geo-block rogue nations, you know who, the “Stans” (Pakistan or anything with “stan” in it), Russia, China etc.

And if all that fails, have a redundant backup protocol (on-premise and cloud), so that if you are infected, you can make a clean start with a wipe and reload of all things.

Sandra’s message was to individuals in the PR game, and her message about crisis management was on point. But make no mistake about it, paying criminals only encourages them.

Also, Fathi mentioned that criminals generally give you the means to get your data back, after you pay them.

After seeing several local examples where the ransom was paid – and they got nada.

These are criminals, after all. That’s kind of what they do.

Am I right?

The Mob caught up with the times, and it’s no longer like what Tony Soprano said in 2002 about surfing the net: “Log off. That ‘cookies’ s**t makes me nervous.” Classic.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day, and your week is crisis free.

But if one pops up, you can let me know. I’ll point you in the right direction.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com

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