When you’ve been on the block as long as we have, you start to get a sixth sense for when a story is going to go from the periphery to the spotlight. One such opportunity came in on Monday, when we got wind of a story that phones may lead paper passports to be redundant. This was following a French firm’s decision to begin developing digital passports.

We immediately brewed an industrial amount of coffee and forwarded the news to our clients, asking for comments to come in double quick-time. Thankfully we work with some fantastic companies, who agreed this was a good story to be part of the conversation on and were able to get top-quality insights to us in a snap. The Eskenzi team was soon armed with expert comments and so we began targeting our friends in the press.

Going the extra mile first thing on a Monday is never easy, but we soon began to see the results. By lunchtime we’d secured our clients coverage in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the International Business Times. It wasn’t long before the tech press picked up on the comments and we started seeing some familiar names appearing in InfoSecurity Magazine, IT Pro Portal and Information Security Buzz. We realised we were onto something when Fortune Magazine picked up the story and included our clients!

Not bad for a Monday morning, but we didn’t think that we’d gotten the most out of the comments, and after some more targeted outreach, we saw our clients’ names appearing again and again as the story took off. All told, we secured placement in over 50 publications – here’s the full list:

The TelegraphFortune, International Business Times UK, InfoSecurity Magazine, IT Pro PortalIndependent Ireland, Yahoo News India, International Business Times India, PC Mag India, Gizmodo UK, Gizmodo India, Herald Sun, My Informs, Skype Bookings, Horizon Asia, Gadgets 360, Networked India, Techislet, The Statesman, Information Security BuzzToday Online, Travel and Leisure, Mena FN, India Online, New Kerala, Daiji World, Net India, The Siasat Daily, Zee News, Business Today, Silicon India, Khaleej Times, Business Standard, India TV News, Web India 123, Gizbot, News of Bahrain, Morung Express, Nagal and Post, Hand Picked Media, Northern California News, Explorer Hacker 21, JCC Tech, Hack Busters, New World Wide Technology, The Hans India, Liverostrum, India Trending Now, Aims Education, Mobile Business Insights, Booking Odds, Yulman, Trans Asian News, Conde Nast Traveler and Tech Spot

Go Eskenzi!

 

RAINBOW

Do you remember the day when you got your dream car? How much fun you had driving around in it!  Then, slowly, the feeling started to wear off and you wanted something shinier, faster and smarter!  In fact, if you’re in sales, you’ll know that feeling you get when you are chasing the next big deal you get a huge kick when you bag it, but it only lasts a while before you’re after the next deal.

 

Well PR is a bit like that too, where you are constantly striving for, and demanding, the next big piece of coverage – the big national, TV or radio placement!  The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! No longer are we just happy with getting into the trade publications; we don’t feel like we’ve achieved true greatness unless we get into the nationals.

 

It’s an addiction! An obsession! And we suffer from it here at Eskenzi!  What’s even worse our clients also suffer from it.  It’s totally contagious, chasing the next big story for that fantastic fix. You get it once and you want more and more!

 

The funny thing is that most of our clients come to us very disheartened about PR. They’ve often been let down by their PR agencies, and don’t really believe that they can get great press coverage day in and day out!  So, when they initially start with Eskenzi PR, they are delighted when they get into the likes of SC Magazine, Infosecurity, TechWeek Europe, ComputerWorld and Computer Weekly.  But then they want more! They start loving the idea that they’re seeing hits to their website going up day by day and then peaking when they get a great piece published.  Then they get into the likes of The Register, V3 or TechCrunch and still want more! Their sales teams start congratulating the marketing and PR teams, which we all know is virtually unknown for sales to do, because when they turn up at meetings prospective customers have heard their company name and are happy to talk to them.  They see the power of PR.

 

Then the icing on the cake happens. We get them a hit in the FT – the golden chalice!  Everyone jumps for joy!  They send out emails to the company, their customers and go home feeling proud that they’ve done a great day’s work!  It’s just the best feeling in the world – a buzz that nothing can compare to!  Then they want even more, we want more and so it happens. The next week’s coverage is just ten nice hits in the trades, but they want the nationals,. In fact they want TV.  And we then have to remind them that PR is all about peaks and troughs –good constant regular coverage in the tech press is just as important as the giant, circulation nationals!

 

Thankfully, at Eskenzi we can provide balance at the same time as maintaining our clients need for the big high!  Maybe that’s why our clients stay with us for an average of seven years.

 

This week alone, we got three clients mentioned in the FT, three different ones mentioned in the Guardian and The Times, and ITV are doing a programme with one of our clients next week. That is all on top of 330 pieces of coverage this week in the trades (and we’re talking The Register, Huffington Post, BBC.)

 

This week is no different to any other – I’d actually say it’s been quite a quiet one, as some weeks we can get 120 hits in one day! I hope, though, that we never get tired of the kick we get for our clients, nor should our clients ever get blasé with the coverage – we love it, we’re proud of it and I know they are too!  Who’d have ever thought that IT security PR would be such fun  and keep providing the constant buzz it does?!

In November we gained a new client called CertiVox; a Shoreditch-based cyber security company with a big vision to change the whole structure of the internet. In what we thought would be a normal meeting to get to know our new client, we were left gobsmacked at the big ideas and goals that this start-up had. The CertiVox CEO told us that trust on the internet is broken but he has a solution to fix it, as simple as that. It didn’t take us long to realise that this would be a very exciting client to work with, they had clear goals in mind and they wanted our help to achieve them.

CertiVox wanted a makeover and rebranding to become MIRACL. Our job was to take this new name that no one had heard of before and turn it into a well-known and trusted company. As if this wasn’t a mammoth enough job, it had to be done in time for their next round of funding this February.

In the first few days of working with MIRACL, before we had even met them properly, M&S had some technical glitches. So we practically threw the MIRACL CEO into a cab to the ITV News film crew in London to discuss the breach on national television. Not a bad way to kick off work with a new client.

Once we had time to catch our breath after the excitement of ITV news, we sat down and came up with a PR strategy to match MIRACL’s ambitions. We decided on a timeline to issue press releases surrounding MIRACL’s partnerships and work with big companies such as NTT and Experian. What we found particularly interesting was that Experian had selected MIRACL’s M-Pin technology to provide secure authentication for the millions of UK citizens who use the Gov.Verify service to log into any government activity websites such as DVLA and HMRC.

This coincided nicely with the tax return deadline of January 31st which would require anyone filing their tax return online to login using the Gov.Verify service. So we came up with the idea to carry out a survey on scams around tax returns. We then turned this into two press releases which achieved 180 pieces of coverage in publications such as the Metro, Yahoo News and MSN.

While all this was happening, we were also looking out for news stories around certificate authorities on which MIRACL could comment so that their voice can be heard on the issue, and it certainly has been in publications like SC Magazine and TechCrunch. Of course we also provided comment opportunities on big news stories in the industry such as the recent report which found that “123456” was still the most popular password. This achieved 30 pieces of coverage including the Guardian, Mirror and Metro (again!).

There was also the recent HSBC Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack; terrible publicity for HSBC but great exposure for MIRACL’s CEO whose comments were included in publications such as International Business Times and Computer Business Review. On the following Saturday we had a call from a small television channel you may have heard of called BBC, asking for someone to talk about the Lincolnshire county council ransomware incident. We managed to convince the reporter to send a cameraman to Brian’s house for some ‘on the ground’ reporting and before we knew it, MIRACL’s CEO was on the evening news.

With appearance in online and print publications, television and radio and over 300 pieces of coverage for MIRACL since we started work for them in November, I think it is fair to say we have got their name out there loud and clear for the next round of funding and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

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At the end of last week, The Guardian reported that Ofcom, the media regulator, had suffered the biggest breach in its history involving the misuse of data that was downloaded by an employee before leaving the company. The former employee offered a large amount of sensitive information to his new employee, a major broadcaster.

One of Eskenzi’s most long standing clients, Varonis, has a suite of solutions that would have prevented this type of breach, so it was a shoe in to offer them this story to issue commentary and advice on.

Eskenzi prides itself in keeping what’s known as a ‘comment bank’ for each client. This is a document that contains every single approved comment by each client. As preventing insider threat attacks are core to what Varonis does, we had a wealth of existing comments on the topic. Within less than half an hour of sending Varonis the story, and a proposed comment drafted from the comment bank, we had approval and the pitching began.

We had phenomenal results from these comments, with Varonis seeing 7 pieces of tier 1 coverage in less than two hours. Publications included Huffington Post, SC Magazine, The Inquirer and IT PRO.

Keeping a comment bank allowed us to start pitching comments in record time. It’s far quicker and easier for the client if we can send them a draft as starting point. This means they can simply approve (or edit), rather than coming up with something from scratch each time.

You may or may not have heard the news last week that a Snapchat HR employee fell for a phishing email in which a cyber criminal impersonated Snapchat’s CEO asking for employee payroll information. Worryingly, the employee was unable to recognise that this was a scam and gave the criminals the payroll information of present and former employees.

As no customer details were disclosed we knew that this wouldn’t be a huge story, yet as Snapchat is one of the most popular and wide spread apps on the market, it was a relatively safe bet to assume this would be written about. So we shared the story with our clients and Jonathan Sander, VP of Product Strategy at Lieberman Software came back with a great comment explaining that “the fact that Snapchat got snagged with this shows that being young, cool, and high tech doesn’t protect you from being a phishing target” and even millennials with their tech savviness will not be putting cybercriminals out of the phishing business.

Snapchat-flashy-features

Jonathan’s interesting comments achieved coverage in the Guardian, Computer Business Review, International Business Times and three other publications. Proofpoint also provided comments on the story which outlined just how sophisticated phishing attacks have become that even with training, people can still be fooled. These achieved coverage in Tech Week Europe and Information Security Buzz.

At Eskenzi we also get tens of phishing emails each day and we also received emails impersonating our CEO asking us to transfer money. Luckily, we were able to spot the scam however if we had fallen for it, it could have been detrimental to our agency. So while the Snapchat story resulted in good coverage for our clients we urge businesses to provide appropriate and ongoing training on how to spot even the most sophisticated attempts and plead everyone to be alert to suspicious emails.

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Connected cars are becoming more common but are they secure? The Nissan Leaf is the latest example that shows that they’re most definitely not.

Last week, Australian security blogger, Troy Hunt, demonstrated that car manufacturers need to really pay attention to the safety of their connected vehicles.

He discovered a flaw that was very easy to exploit. He simply retrieved the ID number of the car, which is on the windscreen and, with this number, took control of the vehicle. He could then control the air conditioning system and access various data such as the level of charge or even access the GPS system, which would track the owner’s location.

The BBC broke the story in the UK and we quickly sent it around to several clients for comment – this is known as a rapid response. This time around it was HPE Security who hit the coverage jackpot! Eskenzi does the PR for HPE Security both in the UK and the USA, and it wasn’t long before HPE Security’s resident Internet of Things expert, Reiner Kappenberger, had sent over some great commentary.

The Eskenzi teams leapt into action and started pitching these comments in the UK and USA. With our fingers crossed, we waited to see what results we would get. It was our team on the other side of the pond who hit the jackpot with these comments.  With a reach of just under 46 million (yes, million!), USA Today used Reiner’s comments in their story. Amazingly, this piece was syndicated over 200 times in the United States. In total, across both countries, the story was picked up 237 times.

Not too shabby for a day’s work.

By now, the media has been pretty well saturated with the news that the FBI has asked Apple for help in decrypting data from the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters under the All Writs Act of 1789.  Under the 227 year old law, the US Federal Court is authorised to issue any writs it sees fit.   Without getting too much into the technicalities (there is some uncertainty about what the FBI is actually asking of Apple – i.e is it really a “backdoor” or is it simply help in unlocking one phone belonging to a terrorist?)

  • applefbi

Apple hit back at the FBI with an open letter to customers saying that it is a “dangerous precedent” to set because “the government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location…” and so forth.  This could be a stretch in this particular instance, but it’s brought to light serious issues with regards to technology manufacturers and national security – issues that have been around for a while now.  Teresa May suggested a bill four years ago (nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter) that is still being discussed in Parliament and David Cameron even advocated for weakening encryption in order to tackle terrorism and crime something that has had the security professionals raging. 

So here’s the kicker – it’s taken a singular case involving Apple to finally get regular people to sit up and care.  Suddenly it’s real because it’s a big brand, despite the technology industry shouting about it for years.  Friends and family of mine were talking about Tim Cook’s open letter to customers, posting to Facebook – people who have never cared about this kind of stuff before.

Makes you wonder though – did Apple see this as a chance for some publicity?  Ask a pen tester or someone in the know, and they’ll tell you they hack iPhones all the time; it’s not a big deal.  Does the FBI really not have the resources to do it themselves?  I’m sure they could if they wanted to.  So was the request to Apple a mere courtesy that Apple has taken advantage of?  There are lots of questions around this that seem to be unanswered, but the main thing that sticks out is how Apple has managed to capitalise on the situation.

But hey, anything that makes the public consider their data security and privacy ought to be a good thing, right? Or is that spoken like a true PR person? ;0)

As us in the security industry know, CEO fraud is a big hit for today’s crafty cyber criminals. The technique involves a hacker, pretending to be the CEO of a company, sending an email to employees asking to do an urgent wire transfer.

While it might seem like quite an obvious trick, hackers actually have tools, which enable them to create an email address which is almost identical to the legitimate one, so to the untrained eye this type of scam can be very difficult to spot. In fact, so difficult to stop that there have been numerous stories in the news recently of companies losing hundreds of thousands of pounds to CEO fraud.

While one might believe this scam only affects the big businesses out there, the truth is everyone is a target, even Eskenzi PR….

Last Friday morning I was at home checking my emails with my morning coffee, when I noticed an email from the Eskenzi CEO – Yvonne Eskenzi. When I opened the email I found a rather urgent note from asking me if I was in the office and if I could do an emergency wire transfer. The email also stated that “Yvonne” was only available on email and not to call her.

My first thought when I saw the email was “why on earth would Yvonne think i’m in the office at 7.30am, she knows me better than that…”

I then looked more closely at the email and realised that while the sender was called Yvonne Eskenzi the actual email address was nothing like our usual company format. This obviously made me concerned and I was able to deduce pretty quickly that it was a phishing email. Eskenzi is a security PR agency and we therefore talk about these scams on a daily basis. We know the best ways to spot a fake email from a legitimate one, but unfortunately not all companies will be able to this.

CEO fraud is a huge business for hackers and companies therefore need to be on the look out for these scams. It is therefore advisable to always teach staff to look closely at email addresses and never carry out a money transaction unless they can be 100% sure the person on the other end of the email is exactly who they say they are.

 

Last Friday, HSBC’s online banking website got taken down by a DDoS attack, leaving thousands of customers unable to access its services. Anyone attempting to access their account was receiving an error message that morning reading: “We’d like to apologise to all our customers for Online Banking being unavailable.We know how inconvenient this is and we are doing everything we can to rectify the problem. Please try later.”

This may have been extremely inconvenient for HSBC customers, but a cyber attack on this scale means a field day for Eskenzi PR’s security expert clients. Within only a few minutes of the first reports of the attack, we had issued a link to the breaking news to our clients, asking for comments on the story and advice for those affected. With a story like this, with such a high profile organisation involved, time is most definitely of the essence.

Several clients responded in record time, but it was one of our newest clients, NuData Security, who really cashed in on HSBC’s bad news. We issued commentary from Robert Capps and it wasn’t long before the coverage started rolling in.

By the end of Friday, NuData had obtained coverage in The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and Reuters. Over the course of the weekend, more National hits popped up in print in The Sun and online in the Mail on Sunday.

At the time of writing this blog, NuData Security has obtained 13 pieces of coverage, all in National newspapers or top business publications. It just goes to show that, if you’re on the ball when a huge story breaks, you can end up with fantastic results.

Last week, password management firm, SplashData released a report announcing the most used passwords of 2015 and the results were shockingly bad with “123456” and “password” at the top of the leader board. The results showed that people’s terrible password habits have hardly improved since 2011. Although this is terrible news fo
r the poor souls that will have their data stolen this year d
ue to their lazy password choices, this was a great opportunity for our security experts to rant on a national stage.Login Box

On Wednesday we received a request from a journalist at Press Association
asking for comment on the password report; which is really hitting the jackpot in our line of work as it means that the story will likely get

syndicated across tons of publications across the country and maybe even
overseas. So, we forwarded the request to our security experts and they were quick to provide commentary on the story, then we all did our rain dance chanting for coverage, which seemed to work for our two lucky clients, ESET and MIRACL.

Throughout the day we eagerly watched the coverage rolling in, from BT, the Mirror and Metro to local papers such as Yorkshire Post and Wigan Today. Both clients achieved coverage in around 30 publications from this story which is a great start to the year! However, we weren’t done just yet. We sent the comments out to further journalists and the Guardian also used them their own article. To put the cherry on top, a journalist from BBC World Service radio also called us asking for a quick interview. Of course, we dropped everything we were doing, and so did MIRACL’s CEO, to take the interview within half an hour of the request.

The end results were 7 pieces of national coverage and 21 pieces of regional and technology publications.

We really are grateful to have such influential journalists coming to us for comments and we are lucky to have such great clients willing to drop everything for a good PR opportunity, it certainly makes our job easier. So a massive thank you to them all, and here’s to a 2016 filled with more success stories than our blog can handle.

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