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Perth Mint Cyber Attack Case Study: How to leverage YouTube in a crisis

By Michelle Wang and James Fitzpatrick

Perth Mint Cyber Attack Case Study: How to leverage YouTube in a crisis

The Perth Mint is one of the last standing branches of the UK’s Royal Mint and has been the gold centre for many clients across Western Australia. It is one of only two Australian mints legally issuing coins for the Australian dollar.

With over AUD 3.1 billion in client gold and silver deposits, a data breach of the mint would create concern for many.

That’s exactly what happened last month, when the Perth Mint noticed signs of a data breach in their system. With their reputation and their clients’ information at stake, they had to act fast to handle the incident.

What happened

On Wednesday, 5 September 2018, the company found the potential breach of data through their online depository system – an online forum that allows clients to buy, sell or trade their valuable metals.

Within hours, the Perth Mint launched a forensic investigation into how the breach occurred and what data has been accessed. The data breach is said to have occurred on the system of a third-party technology provider; the Perth Mint worked closely with the third-party provider and the Western Australian Police to shut down the breach.

Initially, it was thought that only 13 customers had their data accessed by hackers. Once the investigation identified who these customers were, authorities then contacted those affected to reassure them that the breach had been stopped. The customers were also briefed extensively about what was taken and assured that their valuables stored within the Mint remained safe.

“We are in the process of contacting each of the customers whose data has been accessed. We sincerely regret any distress caused by the misconduct of these unlawful individuals who are responsible for this breach…” - Richard Hayes - CEO

After further investigation, CEO Richard Hayes has now revised the number of affected customers to around 3200.

Their reaction

This is where we commend CEO Richard Hayes and the Perth Mint for how they handled this situation. From the moment the breach was found, they assessed the situation by evaluating what they knew and what they needed to know to respond. They worked with the hacked third-party provider as well as the appropriate authorities to take control of the investigation.

They then made sure to contact their affected customers with both an apology and a reassurance of what the company was actively doing to control the situation and look after their valuable metals.

“We are very disappointed this has occurred but can assure our customers that our systems remain secure and that there is no threat to their account holdings” – Richard Hayed, CEO

Three days later, the CEO releases a statement to the media outlining the situation. Prior to this release, no one had any idea the Mint was experiencing any issues (apart from directly affected customers). They were able to control the situation in-house with no leaks, giving Mr. Hayes enough time to put together a well-written statement.

To ensure their response was well published and received, they leveraged the most effective mass communication channel; online video. They published two Piece-to-Camera media statements to YouTube of Mr Hayes speaking about the issue. An initial piece followed by an update on their investigation and response.

By openly putting his face and name out there with information about the event, the company proved they were taking accountability of the situation and were acting in a transparent manner for the media and general public to see.

Why is YouTube important in a crisis?

Because it’s reach is immense – and you can control the message.

YouTube is the second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook. On average, the world spends over a billion hours a day on YouTube, more than Netflix and Facebook Video combined.

This is not a passing fad; people are moving away from traditional TV (for younger viewers, viewership has now declined by over 43% since 2012) while YouTube’s audience has grown by 74%.

On mobile, YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any broadcast or Pay TV network.

When it comes to video vs. written word: research has shown a viewer remembers 95% of a message when it is watched, compared to only 10% when read. Why? Because it combines auditory and visual senses.

Our conclusion...

If you want people to absorb your crisis response message: film it.

If you want people to watch your crisis response message: post in on YouTube.

How to master a crisis YouTube video

There are a number of tricks to mastering a good YouTube video but don’t be alarmed, they are reasonably simple and like most things in life; get easier with practice.

Start by leveraging the support from someone within your organisation already familiar with YouTube, social media in general, SEO (or Google search), filming, and/or editing.

At Crisis Shield, we are not experts in videography, but we’ve learned through practice to follow these key points:

  1. Spend money on audio, not video. Most modern phones and digital cameras shoot with incredible video quality but have poor microphones - and viewers will tune out if it’s hard to hear what you’re saying. Focus at first on finding a half-decent microphone that you can attach to your phone or digital camera.

  2. Learn basic SEO. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will determine what labels, titles, descriptions etc. you add to your video – and how you share it. Leverage support on this one or at least do some basic research.

  3. Learn basic lighting tricks. Good lighting can make a big difference to video quality (regardless of how good your camera is). There are plenty of tricks to creating good lighting without paying for camera lights – but there are also plenty of cheap and effective basic lighting kits on the market.

  4. Keep it simple. Don’t spend hours deciding on location or on expensive and extensive video editing software. Simple and basic software is all you should need for this type of video.

Perth Mint Verdict

Back to the Mint; it’s not often we’re able to applaud a company for the way they handled a data breach. The Perth Mint was able to keep information from being leaked to the media, giving them time to focus on the facts of the situation without the pressure of an inevitable barrage of questions. Their plan showed signs of quick thinking and involved all the necessary parties efficiently, having called the police for help and alerting the affected customers in a way that minimised misunderstandings.

Within three days, the Perth Mint was able to show that they were able to handle a crisis effectively and efficiently with their tight grip on information, a statement providing all the facts known to them at the time, and a media statement of Mr Hayes addressing the issue.

Most importantly, they leveraged the power of video by publishing both of Hayes’ statements to their YouTube channel.

In our Media Training Workshops, we walk participants through understanding the theory behind crisis media responses, how to leverage all platforms (including YouTube), and how to nail both your message and on-camera performance. If you’re interested in participating in one of the workshops, contact James for more information and a quote.

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