Panel Urges Journalists to Rethink Cybersecurity Stories

Posted By David Wilhite

By Charlotte Norsworthy, Cox-SABEW Fellow

When it comes to cybersecurity journalism, panelists at the 2018 Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing conference in New York City argued it’s more than just hacks.

Bob Sullivan, the moderator of the panel and host of the cybersecurity podcast Breach, said journalists often incorrectly focus on the amount of data that has been breached rather than the potential risks.

“Don’t settle for, ‘this many people had this number of data stolen,’” Sullivan said. “The most important question is what’s the risk and why do you think so.”

Data leaks are often more of a threat than hacked data, said panelist Melanie Ensign, security and privacy communications lead at Uber.

“This concept of data leakage or even data sharing opens up where there’s probably more risk for consumers than what we would consider to be a traditional compromise or breach because of privacy terms that you might have agreed to,” Ensign said.

In encouraging journalists to shift their focus when it comes to cybersecurity stories, Sean Sposito, an analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research, said journalists should recommend solutions when these leaks happen.

“I think it’s much more important to create a set of actionable recommendations or at least pass a solution within a story,” Sposito said. “I think that makes it much more compelling.”

The panel urged journalists to question any individual who will agree to speak when security breaches happen in order to get the most information possible.

Charlotte Norsworthy is a journalism student at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and was recognized as a 2018 Cox-SABEW Fellow.

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