Fleishman launches global cybersecurity and privacy practice

"Data security comms is not a fad or a flavor of the month," said one of the practice leaders. "It is here to stay."

ST. LOUIS: FleishmanHillard has launched a global practice focused on helping clients with data security and privacy challenges.

Called the FH global practice on privacy and cyber risk, it is housed within the agency’s crisis management unit.

The group’s mission is to provide clients with a one-stop shop to address data-specific challenges in areas including data breach preparedness and response; employee awareness and engagement; privacy protection communications and advocacy; and public affairs regulatory and legislative counsel.

Overseeing the new practice is Chris Nelson, crisis lead for the Americas; Harry Frazier, public affairs’ leading data breach counselor; Marjorie Benzkofer, global lead for reputation management and employee engagement; and Tim O’Keeffe, an information security advocacy expert who leads Fleishman’s San Francisco office.

"This is formalizing the capabilities we have been rapidly expanding over several years," said Frazier. "Since 2006, there has been steady demand for these services among our offices, but it has exploded in recent years due to highly visible data breaches."

Corey Ealons, SVP and chair of the cybersecurity practice at Fleishman subsidiary Vox Global, also brings a team of sector specialists to the group.

"Vox’s role is to provide the eyes and ears from a DC legislative and regulatory perspective and provide clients with context on what is happening there and how it might impact their business," Ealons explained.

The global practice leaders will work with existing teams of crisis counselors in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia, who already help manage data breaches and privacy issues. Counselors within the practice are based across the firm’s network of 88 offices in 31 countries.

In addition, key members of the firm’s International Advisory Board, such as Leon Panetta, former US Secretary of Defense, are partnering with the team.

The practice is also supported by cybersecurity and investigations firms, cyber law firms, and cyber insurance underwriters with which Fleishman has a relationship. For instance, one year ago, Fleishman and risk-management firm Kroll formed a strategic alliance focused on cybersecurity and data-breach-risk mitigation.

Frazier said the practice is targeting clients across industries including education, financial services, healthcare, and retail.

The Department of Homeland Security recently extended Fleishman’s contract for strategic outreach and awareness support of its Office of Cybersecurity & Communications through the first half of this year.

"Data security comms is not a fad or a flavor of the month – it is here to stay," Frazier added.

Data breaches have been rife in recent months, most recently hitting health insurers Premera Blue Cross and Anthem. Sony Pictures Entertainment also suffered a high-profile cyberattack last year, which authorities blamed on North Korean hackers.

Retailers including Target and Home Depot have also been hit by data thefts.   

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