Dot-com pros enter crisis mode as hackers hit sites

BOSTON: The PR departments of some of the nation’s top Internet companies were forced into full crisis mode last week as hackers attacked their sites, leaving some customers unable to access them and others experiencing slower load times. Among those targeted were Yahoo!, Amazon.com, eBay, Buy.com, CNN.com, E*Trade, ZDNet and Datek Online.

BOSTON: The PR departments of some of the nation’s top Internet companies were forced into full crisis mode last week as hackers attacked their sites, leaving some customers unable to access them and others experiencing slower load times. Among those targeted were Yahoo!, Amazon.com, eBay, Buy.com, CNN.com, E*Trade, ZDNet and Datek Online.

BOSTON: The PR departments of some of the nation’s top Internet

companies were forced into full crisis mode last week as hackers

attacked their sites, leaving some customers unable to access them and

others experiencing slower load times. Among those targeted were Yahoo!,

Amazon.com, eBay, Buy.com, CNN.com, E*Trade, ZDNet and Datek Online.



Yahoo! was hit first last Monday, an attack that paralyzed the site for

three hours. As an estimated 250 calls poured in, senior director of

corporate communications Diane Hunt said that Yahoo!’s goal was to

convey the difference between a hack and an attack.



’Something like this doesn’t go inside the building, it blocks the road

to the building,’ she said. ’None of our user data was compromised.’



eBay, hit by hackers on Tuesday, relied primarily on senior director of

communications Kevin Pursglove to handle media inquiries. However,

manager of PR Jennifer Chu called the crisis ’an all-hands-on-deck

situation,’ with the company’s engineering, PR and customer service

departments collaborating on how to handle the situation.



CNN.com was hit on Tuesday night after many of its publicists had

already left for the day. CNN Interactive publicist Paul Schur said that

once he and his colleagues learned of the situation, they took press

calls throughout the night. ’Because we’re built for breaking news, we

respond very well to emergencies,’ he said.



ZDNet had its turn on Wednesday morning, when a two-hour assault

coincided with a meeting attended by much of its top brass. While

director of PR Martha Papalia initially fielded press calls, the company

put its VP of operations, technology staff and CEO on the phone with

top-tier press as soon as the meeting let out.



But even though ZDNet claims to have responded to every call, Papalia

said that the company tried not to give out too much information,

fearing copycat attacks. ’While we wanted to be forthcoming, we didn’t

want to be too detailed,’ said Papalia. ’It’s not helpful to be too

techy with reporters.’



Most companies owned up to the problems that they were experiencing, but

Datek director of PR Michael Dunn said that his company does not

consider itself to have been compromised. Though some of its customers

were unable to log on to the site between 9:30 and 10:05 am EST, Dunn

claimed that the problem was the result of an attack on one of the

company’s vendors.



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