Cybersecurity: Raising awareness, countering attacks, and safeguarding communications operations

Why cybersecurity is and will remain a highly relevant topic

The number of cyberattacks and variants of malware is rising rapidly and new threats such as identity theft trough deepfakes are emerging. Due to the rise of remote work in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are more vulnerable. Employees using their own devices or unapproved software, exacerbates the existing risks of cybersecurity.


Vice President Corporate Communications & Government Relations, Beiersdorf



“We expect cybersecurity incidents to be the norm rather than the exception. It’s something an organization must be prepared for.”

Anke Schmidt, Vice President Corporate Communications & Government Relations, Beiersdorf

Role of employee behaviour in cybersecurity

Despite technological advances and increased investment in cybersecurity training and awareness, some employees do, and others don’t comply with information security policies:

  • Perceived threats: An employee who believes that their misconduct could result in severe negative consequences is more likely to follow information security policies.
  • Perceived efficacy: If employees trust their own abilities, they’re more likely to follow information security policies.
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards: Employees are less likely to follow information security policies if they expect to get more of their work done and save time.
  • Response costs: Employees are less likely to comply with information security policies if doing so takes time and effort.


Recommendations for communication professionals

What communication leader and professionals can do to prepare the organization against cyberattacks?

In case that important communication infrastructure breaks down, an organization can be “speechless”. This is a major threat for brands, their reputation and corporate culture in today’s globally connected communication spheres. Another major threat are data leaks in communication departments. Internal documents can be misinterpreted or scandalized by opponents and journalists when they become public. But there are several suggestions for communications leader and professionals in order to be prepared against cyberattacks:

  • Protect the communications infrastructure to ensure continuous operations. Therefore, backup structures should be installed and regularly tested.
  • Make the information about the security policies accessible for every employee. The communication of these information should be an integral part of the internal communication.
  • Consider cyberattacks and new threats like deepfakes, when preparing for crisis communication. Trainings and communication routines are helpful to minimize the threats.


Further Topics: 


Key Facts about the 5 trends

  • Language Anwareness: Linguistic diversity such as gender sensitivity is increasingly discussed in society today. This shifts the focus of discussions from the actual content to the choice of words and phrasing. Communication managers will have to meet the expectations of different stakeholders and cultures while keeping in mind content and usability.
  • Closed Communication: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the retreat into the private sphere. Private messaging services like Telegram, Signal and Threema are popular examples of closed communication using partly hidden platforms. As a result, media use is shifting from public to private media environments. For communicators, more and more interactions between stakeholders are becoming invisible.
  • Gigification: The division of projects and large tasks into "gigs" works for companies in the gig economy such as Uber, Lieferando or Fiverr. The demand for gigs is rapidly increasing due to remote work, digital nomadism, and globalization. Corporate communications can outsource various tasks as gigs; for example, creative tasks, text layout, presentation design, and software development can already be performed as gigs.
  • Synthetic Media is no longer a futuristic scenario. The underlying technology has recently matured to a level where the content produced appears highly realistic. It will become relevant for corporate communications as organizations can use e. g. avatars to revive the own history or to enhance the customer experience. How can this risky technology be useful for communications?
  • Cybersecurity: The number of Cyberattacks is rising rapidly every year. Cyberattacks are “the new normal” and can cause substantial financial and reputational damage. Organizations become more vulnerable due to the increased digitalization or the introduction of unapproved software in the workplace. What can communications leader do, to prepare the organization against cyberattacks?


  1. Sources & screening: First, information sources which provide relevant insights into the professional discourse in the areas of management, technology, and society were monitored and screened. These sources primarily include recent publications from scientific journals and conferences in the respective domains, but also selected newspapers (e.g., Economist Science and Technology), magazines (e.g., Harvard Business Review, Wired), social news sites (e.g., Reddit Science), blogs and websites (e.g., ReadWrite, The Next Web), whitepapers, and corporate trend reports.
  2. Trend profiles: Each potential trend was systematically documented in a trend profile consisting of a brief description and several criteria estimating the trend’s relevance to corporate communications. Specifically, the research team assessed the impact of the trend on the corporate communications function, processes and management.
  3. Scoring: Based on the criteria detailed in the trend profiles, a scoring method was developed that was used to rate each of the trends.
  4. Selection: These trends were first discussed among the Communications Trend Radar team during a workshop. Each team member then voted individually for the top trends in the areas of management, technology, and society. We proposed five trends for 2022 (depicted below) based on the outcome of this process.
  5. Reflection: These trends were examined further and later discussed with communication leaders during an online workshop in November 2021.
  6. Report: All trends were analyzed and described in more detail in our publication - the Communications Trend Radar.

Research team

The Communications Trend Radar 2022 project was conducted by a research team of the Leipzig and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

from left to right:  

  • Stefan Stieglitz is Professor for Digital Communication and Transformation Professional at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
  • Daniel Ziegele, M.A. is a research associate at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. 
  • Sünje Clausen, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Digital Communication and Transformation at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
  • Ansgar Zerfass is Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany.