“Understanding public relations to cybersecurity incidents”, Alberto Gomez (Elcano, Spain)

Against the widespread belief that public opinion is likely to panic in response to severe cybersecurity incidents, the relevant scholarship is putting this belief and the associated narratives into question. This analysis offers a brief overview of how public opinion approaches and responds to cybersecurity incidents.

It is fair to say that our understanding of how public opinion reacts to an incident in cyberspace has progressed significantly in the past few years. Contrary to previous assumptions, in which uncertainty and fear lead to a public reaction somewhere between panic and paralysis in the aftermath of cybersecurity incidents, current research points to an increased public knowledge about the limited societal or physical impacts of disruptive incidents. A greater knowledge undermines the narratives of securitisation that exaggerate the impact of incidents in the daily life of ordinary people. A better understanding of public reactions would help cybersecurity authorities to improve their communication and deterrence procedures about severe incidents.

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