Manufacturing Leadership Journal Features Digital Assassination Co-Authors
01.13.2014, THE MANUFACTURING LEADERSHIP JOURNAL
Beware The Digital Assassin
Personal and corporate reputations are increasingly vulnerable to online attacks that often ruin lives and businesses. A book by two leading reputation management advisors explains how “digital assassins” attack, and what you can do to defend yourself.
How do competitors, “black hat” hackers, determined promoters of special interests, personal enemies, and trolls use the Internet to destroy your company’s—or your personal—reputation? Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis count them in their book, Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks. Torrenzano and Davis see seven basic modes of attack.
While most of these methods—which the authors call “swords”— have been around as long as humanity itself, the Internet brings a speed, scope, and permanence to the amount of damage a digital assassin can do.
Though technology has not stood still in the two years since the book was published, the ways people use it to destroy reputations are timeless. And despite better firewalls, malware sniffers, and other tech defenses, the digital assassins are as prevalent as ever. As Torrenzano said in a recent interview, “The ability to smear reputations breeds on the Internet. Instead of the problem getting smaller, it is now reaching a crisis level.” For a ripped-from-the-headlines example, one need look no further than the 2013 data breach that endangered the identities of 40 million Target customers.
“No one is safe, no one is immune to this,” adds Torrenzano. “Anyone who has a public profile is vulnerable to attacks on their credit and credibility. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about this until it happens to them.”
Using examples that range from ancient Rome to recent headlines, Torrenzano and Davis explain in terrifying detail why you need to understand the digital deviltry that exists to terrorize your business and ruin your personal reputation, as well as the seven “shields” you can use for protection.
Slash and Tell
Among the seven swords are two the authors call New Media Mayhem and Silent Slashers.
New Media Mayhem—Everything old is new again, with a twist, especially when it comes to media. “This new global media environment oddly takes us back to the level of a disgraced inhabitant of a small village of a prior era, condemned for life by gossip,” say the authors. While 20th-century media at least attempted to provide fair and balanced reporting of news, in today’s Google-centric news environment, what rises to the top of the search page isn’t necessarily the best coverage, but the most sensational. “More dirt means more eyeballs, which means more ad revenue,” the authors say.
Traditional media, while still a force, is being replaced by “the clowns and barking seals of a digital circus,” say the authors. Today, corporate systems are open to hacking, there are “sticky” negative images that “spread like kudzu in a Google environment,” and non-governmental organizations collude with secret donors, media, and prosecutors to bring down high-profile targets.
Even attempting to fight back can backfire, as entertainer Barbra Streisand found out when she sued to keep an environmental activist and Pictopia.com from posting aerial pictures of her mansion. The authors explain that the ensuing publicity drew millions to view the photo on the once-obscure site, and “the picture wafted all across the Internet, like so many dandelion seeds, into too many places to monitor or count.” Attempts at suppressing an image now often leads to its promotion on the Internet—a phenomenon now known as the “Streisand Effect.”
There is no shortage of “Gossip Girls”— think sensation-sellers such as TMZ and Perez Hilton—who are willing to pile on to anything that sounds salacious with no regard to what’s fair. And don’t forget the “Shame Famers” looking for attention any way they can get it, even if it comes at the price of outing themselves as being involved in the scandal.
Even corporate competitors are taking off their digital kid gloves. “Indeed, low-grade corporate warfare is constantly being waged between technology giants through patent trolls, insider blogs, and corporate talking points that accompany lobbyists thrust in front of senior congressional staffers and regulators,” they say. And not just tech companies are engaging in this type of battle; the authors cite examples from Jenny Craig to Burt’s Bees to Facebook.
Once the spin is out of the bottle, it can and will amplify across the Net, leaving tattered reputations in its wake, say the authors.
This is tricky to combat. The law has come down on the side of interactive computer services that are used to spread lies, rumors, and disinformation, saying that it is solely on the individual poster, who, of course, may be impossible to identify.
Silent Slashers—“Today the Internet empowers digital assassins, allowing undocumented charges and concocted images to ping around the globe at light-speed,” the authors say. Where once pet peeves were anonymously painted on the walls in ancient Rome, today they’re equally anonymously sprayed all over online bulletin boards, social media, and other technology platforms. Then Google’s spiders index them, and the more slanderous the post, the more hits it gets, the higher it reaches in search rankings, and the more viral it becomes.
These attackers are called “Silent Slashers” because you may not even be aware of the wound that’s been inflicted until you see it gushing all over the Internet. Again, while this type of sneak-attack character assassination is nothing new, “the dark arts of disinformation on the Internet have the potential to insinuate any falsehood, provided it is lurid enough.”
The authors also explain how Google Bombing—“which manipulates search results so that a search for one person or thing leads the searcher to something satirical or defamatory”—is both a very effective Silent Slasher tool and perfectly legal. And then there’s Google Bowling, “the malicious leaking of praise,” which the Silent Slasher uses to push a competitor’s site up the Google ranks until Google, sniffing a rat, punishes the site by knocking it far down the list.
You can sometimes put a name to an anonymous assassin by tracing IP addresses and/or threatening legal action against the site the Slasher uses. You also can try to diffuse the effects of the slash by reducing the rumor’s importance and/or its ambiguity, which are the two factors that make it Internet gossip catnip. But tread very carefully, because the more attention you bring to the rumor, the more attention it will receive—you may end up inadvertently amplifying it instead of dampening it down.
All Is Not Lost
After outlining five more ways digital assassins attack, including using “Evil Clones” to falsely represent you and “Human Flesh Search Engines” to digitally mount a real-life mob assault, the authors offer seven “shields” you can use to minimize, neutralize and even defeat attacks from those using the seven swords against you. Here are two to get you started.
› Learn about social media and other new technology. Whether on sites like Mashable, Wired, and Gizmodo; through a class at your local library or a lecture from your professional association; or from asking a tech-savvy someone to walk you through it, get your fingers on the keyboard and really get to know the Internet. “Don’t stop until you understand—with your fingertips—how search engines really work, how to start a blog and maintain it with an easy free software like WordPress; how to access the popular social networking services like Facebook, Tumblr, or Jaiku; how a search term can be optimized; how to use Google AdSense …You are not equipped to manage your reputation until you can comfortably navigate and post and actively participate on the Internet,” the authors say.
› To respond or not to respond? “The first question that must be answered in the aftermath of an assassin’s attack is whether or not to respond at all. Like encapsulated cancers or asbestos lining old buildings, sometimes it is best to leave an ugly post alone,” the authors say, because responding could end up propagating it instead in a replay of that “Streisand Effect.”
The authors add, “Ask yourself if the offending material is likely to have real-world negative consequences … Second, who has seen it?” Also look for who the attacker is, if the attack is going viral, and if there is an organization behind the attack.
Once you have determined if it makes sense to strike back, the authors offer a detailed game plan you can use to create a digital defense. However, they caution, “One or none of these options may work. Even if they do, do not expect your digital profile to change overnight. The only strategy that always works in your favor 100 percent of the time is the positive approach of creating a reputational cushion.
“The only way to obtain at least some protection is to create as much positive and descriptive information about yourself, link all your sites together, and then make as many organic links as you can to others,” the authors say. They also provide very specific ways to manage your reputation on today’s most popular platforms.
As Torrenzano says, “It’s up to you to guard your reputation. You must conduct personal and business due diligence, put safeguards in place, and monitor regularly.”
Mark Davis , a Senior Director of the Washington-based White House Writers Group, has consulted with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as well as many leading U.S. companies.
Richard Torrenzano is the Chief Executive of The Torrenzano Group, a New York–based strategic communications and high-stake issues management firm.
Digital Assassination is published by St. Martin’s Press of New York and is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
ME Global Leadership Community
Sue Pelletier, the Manufacturing Leadership Journal’s contributing editor, has been writing and editing business publications for more than 20 years. She also develops and manages Internet sites, creates social networking communities, and plans live and virtual events.
The Convenience Store News Features Torrenzano on Digital Assassination
When Bad Things Happen to Good Retailers
Convenience Store News - October 2013
By Renée M. Covino
What you can learn from the recent PR nightmares at Pilot Flying J and 7-Eleven
Dealing With Digital Assassination
Social media plays a very important role in crisis management today because "most threats to companies in terms of its reputation, brand or business come with a major Internet component, if not via the Internet itself," relayed Richard Torrenzano, chief executive at the crisis management firm The Torrenzano Group and co-author of "Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks."
While 7-Eleven and Pilot Flying J experienced legitimate legal attacks on a grand scale, they and other retailers must be aware that damaging attacks don't have to come from a major event such as that – and they don't even have to be based on truth, Torrenzano said.
"In the future, which is now, everyone will have their 15 minutes of shame," he cautioned. "From false Wikipedia entries to Yelp attacks, obscene fabricated images to Facebook privacy concerns, [everyone] is at risk of digital assassination."
For companies potentially on the verge of digital assassination, "we talk about it in terms of an eight-hour day," Torrenzano explained. "Basically, when something negative happens on the Internet, companies really have about six to eight hours to decide what they're going to do – pull together HR, PR and legal counsel and if they're smart, an outside [consultant] perspective, because most corporations are not geared to deal with the Internet in that short of a timeframe."
This was proven in the 2009 Domino's Pizza case when two rogue employees did disgusting and unsanitary things to customers' orders on camera and posted it to YouTube. According to Torrenzano, it took almost six digital days – way too late – for the company to respond.
"Their sales were off. Their stock value was off. There were all sorts of legal and other issues, and most importantly, they had to close that store," he said. "These instant attacks happen with lightning speed. They have real penetration and can do real harm if they're not dealt with in a thoughtful way."
Because of the Internet, there is an enormous "power of one" today, even more so than two years ago, according to Torrenzano. For this reason, every customer must be approached with care and respect. This is important not only from the complaining customer's perspective, but other customers will also take note of how you treat a complaining customer – and it will affect their purchasing behavior as well.
"Anybody who is a merchant can have a bad hair day, but that doesn't excuse you from trying to make it right," he said. "There will be legitimate and illegitimate concerns and they don't all have to be addressed in public, but they do have to be addressed with care and respect. You will get much better customer loyalty this way."
From Fame to Shame - The Philippine Star
10.07.2013, THE PHILIPPINE STAR
Gossiping, hostile badmouthing, bullying and rumor-mongering are nothing new. Nowadays, character assassins have new platforms from which to attack, and they come in various configurations — search result manipulation, identity theft, undocumented charges and concocted images, Google bombs, anonymous and mirror sites, data theft, and perhaps most menacingly, vendetta websites camouflaging as news sites.
Megan Young, the newly crowned Miss World 2013, is a recent victim of cyber bullying or “digital assassination,” when a certain Devina Dediva, allegedly of Manchester University in Indiana, posted on her Facebook account this statement: “Miss Philippines is Miss World? What a joke! I did not know those maids have anything else in them! Hahahaha! They’re poor, smelly from cleaning toilets and uneducated. They’re less privileged everywhere. I’m surprised one can win. What a joke those people cleaning our toilets won "Miss World.”
Many ordinary Filipinos reacted angrily to this “assassination” with many threatening to hit back at the assassin.
Sex videos that are knowingly uploaded — one involving a singer-comedian and a dancer, and a rock artist and his partner — are classified as “murders” of the online kind. Indeed, “digital assassination” is a purposeful move to spread damaging untruths, or take a piece of information disgustingly out of context or exaggerate it weirdly, wiping out carefully built brands or businesses, careers, and personal relationships in the process...
Varolii Features Torrenzano on How to Responds to Social Media Complaints
07.22.2013, VAROLII CORPORATION
Respond to customer's negative comments on social media
A major part of customer service is being solution-oriented, especially when receiving negative feedback. Now that everything has gone viral, it is important to address negative comments online, as the majority of customers have access to these forums.
Richard Torrenzano, CEO of communications firm The Torrenzano Group, explained the importance of companies responding to bad reviews in order to help reduce the chances of other customers posting the same complaints.
Torrenzano said, "If someone gives you a lousy review, address it in a very thoughtful and reasoned way. If you had a bad hair day, admit it, apologize and ask them to come back so that you can make it up in some way. If the review is wrong, say why — but always in a professional, respectful, reasoned manner."
One way to respond to the comments and complaints is to explain how thankful the company is for the feedback, because it helps better understand what its customers value and want, which will ultimately benefit both sides in the end.
Social Media Today suggests that if there is an anti-campaign or group created to oppose the business, address it and even publicize the group on the corporation's website or blog to ask customers what their opinion is on the complaints. This tactic creates an authentic relationship and builds trust between the company and customers. The customers will be exposed to all aspects of the company, including it's successes and places of improvement.
Absorbing best practices and making new connections
07.08.2013, THE PHILIPPINE STAR
New York City once again played the perfect host to the 2013 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) world conference with over 1,500 delegates — including myself and 10 other Filipinos — around the globe, whose passion for what’s new, the best ideas and latest trends are overwhelming. The conference did not disappoint. There were more than 70 educational sessions in seven tracks and a host of interactive panel discussions featuring the senior business leaders you want to know and hear. Let me share two outstanding sessions I attended: one talked about “digital assassination” and the other tackled the top 10 questions in strategic communications.
How do you respond to a “digital assassination”? A panel of experts at the IABC conference addressed the growing problem of how to deal with an online crisis that crashes stock value and draws unwanted media attention. Using the “what if” scenario of a 90-year-old beauty supply company known for its “Fountain of Youth” facial cream, the panel discussed how to respond if one morning a blogger reports that the product causes cancer, posting a gruesome picture of a supposedly affected face. Richard Torrenzano, head of a reputation management firm, led the discussion panel, which included a former CEO, a communications executive, lawyer, and journalists, and they role-played how they would deal with the wildfire while scrambling to find out if there was any truth to the report. Here are salient points that Torrenzano shared.
1. Acknowledge the risks. It’s a scary world out there, and Torrenzano laid out some frightening trends. Hacking has been democratized. Crime and ideology have integrated. Diehard activists and unscrupulous business rivals are engaging in “digital combat marketing.” Torrenzano reported, “One group of activists sent out official-looking notifications to neighbors of corporate executives, accusing the leaders of being pedophiles. They also advertised female executives and wives of corporate leaders as prostitutes, listing their home phone numbers.”
Still, not every cyber nuisance requires a response. You also have to choose your battles. “Some digital attacks will be vicious, others irritating,” Torrenzano said. Barbra Streisand only fanned the flames when she tried to sue to have a photo of her house removed from the Internet.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. You need to be ready to act quickly. When you’re attacked, you have as little as three hours to pull together a crisis team including organizational leadership, HR, PR, general counsel, outside experts and others to respond. “Most organizations I know, and most corporate leaders, cannot deal with that warp speed,” Torrenzano observed.
3. Provide media with substantive information. One might like to think that the coverage of major print media wouldn’t be driven by blog posts. But when a report spreads, the wire picks it up and stock value begins falling, financial reporters have to write something. As Diana B. Henriques, a New York Times financial journalist, declared, “We don’t have a first-day story and a second-day story in my world anymore,” Instead, she said, “There’s the eight-hour digital story, and the next-day story that adds context and authority.”
4. Earn credibility, build trust. Thomas S. Johnson, former chairman and chief executive of GreenPoint Financial Corp. and GreenPoint Bank, emphasized the value of establishing trust and credibility in advance among executives and communicators who will respond to a crisis. This means face-to-face conversation, not phone calls or e-mail. If trust and credibility aren’t established beforehand, they will hinder the response to a crisis.
5. Help the media find reliable sources. Find someone that reporters can quote by name when they file their report. The person can be a scientist from the academe who is not on the company payroll but who will speak credibly about his knowledge about the ingredients in this beleaguered product. It’s okay to release a background statement on the product, but it may not be sufficient. ”I’ve got to explain to our readers what’s going on, and I can’t just say you’re marshaling your facts,” Henriques emphasized.
6. Keep stakeholders informed. The panelists likewise mentioned the importance of informing investors. Barbara Doran, a private wealth manager at Morgan Stanley, said that as the crisis breaks, “I don’t know what’s happening. I know the stock’s going down.” Even if it turns out the blog post is wrong, the stock may be down for a long time, she underscored. Information can help calm skittish investors. The same goes for board members or employees who might speak out of turn.
Torrenzano turned up the heat on his panelists by creating more and more dimensions to the crisis. What if the company’s union announced that some of its female employees would no longer use “Fountain of Youth?” What if an activist group created a fake website and posted a phony apology from the chief executive? In these situations, “The importance of knowing what’s happening online must be underlined. Everything that was once on the Internet remains on the Internet, even if it’s changed,” Torrenzano averred.
Torrenzano Receives Raves Reviews from Social Media Association
06.20.2013, THE SOCIAL MEDIA ASSOCIATION
Which of the seven swords used by digital assassins will cut down your reputation or that of the brand you represent?
At today’s Social Media Association meeting, Fortune 500 PR and crisis management expert Richard Torrenzano detailed how easy it is for everyone and every brand to experience “15 minutes of shame” caused by digital assassins, which could take years to overcome or perhaps ruin reputations forever....
Richard Torrezano to Lead Social Media Association Seminar
06.19.2013, SOCIAL MEDIA ASSOCIATION
June 19 • 8:00 – 10:00 am
Greenway Office Park, 145 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY
Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Brand Against Online Attacks
Online attacks among brands are becoming prevalent in today’s digital society. It is essential to understand how these attacks could affect your brand or business’s reputation.
Richard Torrenzano will be discussing computer attacks and issues, crisis management, and social media. He will also address survival tactics of businesses in an era of intense public scrutiny, media proliferation and hype.
Richard is Chairman and Chief Executive of The Torrenzano Group, a reputation and high-stakes issues management firm specializing in building and protecting corporate reputations, enhancing shareholder value and helping clients grow their businesses.
"We see the continuation of a trend over the next couple of years we call ‘democratization of digital skills,’ with hacking becoming available to average people through downloadable, inexpensive software,” says Richard Torrenzano, chairman and chief executive of the reputation management firm Torrenzano Group. “Everyone will have 15 minutes of shame in the future.”
International Association of Business Communicator's Official Podcast Features Richard Torrenzano on Digital Assassination
In this episode of CW Radio, Richard Torrenzano, CEO of The Torrenzano Group and co-author of Digital Assassination: Protecting your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks, talks with Executive Editor Natasha Nicholson about online reputation attacks, or what he refers to as “digital assassination.” Torrenzano discusses how technology has changed the way companies’ reputations are threatened, and why threats today need to be managed differently than in the past.
Grocer Manufacturers Association to Feature Torrenzano in Upcoming Webinar
GMA Litigation Webinar: Current Issues and Trends
in Social Media, Supply Chain Litigation and
Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
1:00pm - 4:00pm (EDT)
In some companies, social media has become an instrumental tool in reaching its consumers, but this growing trend has left many litigation professionals grappling with what effect it will have on litigation.
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from 1:00pm - 4:00pm (EDT), GMA will host the GMA Litigation webinarthat will address current food, beverage and CPG industry litigation hot topics, including social media and how it relates to litigation, in the session: (Not so) Social Media World and Food, Beverage and CPG Industry Claims Litigation.
Join Ron Levine, Esq. of Herrick Feinstein, LLP and Richard Torrenzano of The Torrenzano Group in a discussion about how social media is both a potential gold mine and minefield for food, beverage and CPG companies, and how to avoid the traps and reap the benefits of this effective and rapidly expanding medium. Topics for this session include determining best industry practices, the ease or difficulty in establishing internal procedures, and embracing change within your organizational culture.
For more details and to view the full agenda of this informative webinar,
Richard Torrenzano has been invited to speak at the Rotary Club of Wichita on November 26th.
He will discuss his game changing book Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks.
About the Rotary Club of Wichita
Proudly entering our Centennial year, the Rotary Club of Wichita is one of the oldest and largest Rotary Clubs in the world. Out of more than 33,000 Rotary clubs internationally, the Rotary Club of Wichita was the 30th club to be chartered and is the 19th largest club worldwide. We are proud to count 375 leaders of businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental entities among our members.
A conversation with Richard Torrenzano - The Wichita Eagle
11.11.2012, THE WICHITA EAGLE
For Richard Torrenzano, chairman and CEO of Torrenzano Group, online attacks are a real threat to businesses, big and small.
“Almost every minute of every day, an individual, company, organization or institution is digitally attacked and assassinated,” Torrenzano said in a phone interview.
“Cyberattacks have dominated news headlines.”
Based in New York City, Torrenzano Group is a reputation and high-stakes issues management firm that specializes in corporate perception.
Torrenzano will speak on Nov. 26 to the Rotary Club of Wichita. He’ll also hold a book-signing event from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 27 at Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas. The book signing is open to the public.
His book, “Digital Assassination: Protecting your reputation, brand or business against online attacks,” discusses the “seven swords of digital assassination” that online attackers use and how businesses and individuals can deal with or thwart such attacks.
MSN's Business on Main Interviews Torrenzano on Negative Customer Reviews
10.24.2012, BUSINESS ON MAIN
Several years ago, the fallout from one angry customer was usually limited to the person’s immediate friends and relatives, and even then it would take a while for bad word-of-mouth to circulate. Today, a customer with an ax to grind can deliver that message instantly to a wide audience using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. Small-business owners who aren’t prepared to respond put themselves at a disadvantage.
“If you don’t participate, other bad reviews can pile on, and that only does you more damage,” says Richard Torrenzano, chairman and CEO of strategic communications firm The Torrenzano Group in New York City. “If someone gives you a lousy review, address it in a very thoughtful and reasoned way. If you had a bad hair day, admit it, apologize and ask them to come back so that you can make it up in some way. If the review is wrong, say why — but always in a professional, respectful, reasoned manner.”
Some business owners make it a point not to respond to negative reviews, arguing that doing so can help the review rank higher in search-engine results and call more attention to the problem. Torrenzano doesn’t buy into that argument. “If you don’t participate, other reviews can pile on,” he says. “And that only does you more damage. It’s like being adrift in a boat and not putting your oar in the water.”
For more advice on protecting your online reputation, click here.
The Transcript of Torrenzano's #CommsChat Twitter Conversation is Now Available
The complete transcript from Richard Torrenzano's Twitter conversation on Monday is now available on #CommsChats website.
Co-Author, Torrenzano to Headline CommsChat's Next Twitter Discussion
Co-author, Richard Torrenzano will headline CommsChat's live Twitter discussion on Monday, October 8th at 3:00pm EST. Sign on and discuss the dark side of all things digital with Torrenzano.
CommsChat is home to one of the most popular communications conversations on the web. The weekly conversations look at all aspects of communications including PR, marketing, reputation management, internal communications and all things digital.
Join the conversation using #CommsChat. To actively participate you do need a Twitter account, though it is not essential to view the conversation.
Digital Assassination Featured in Long Island Pulse Book Round Up 2012
08.13.2012, LONG ISLAND PULSE
Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks
Authors: Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis
By Michele Falcone
In the age of the Internet, anything you type can be cut, copied, pasted and held against you in any forum. For business owners striving to climb the ladder of success, it’s vital to understand how the same tools that can elevate your status can also slay you with one of the “Seven Swords of Digital Assassination.” Richard Torrenzano, chief executive of The Torrenzano Group, a management firm that helps corporations build and protect their reputations, along with Mark Davis, former White House speechwriter and Senior Director of the White House Writers Group, teach readers to avoid falling down the slippery slope of online attacks. Torrenzano and Davis also give insight on ways to protect one’s reputation and thrive (in the business world and beyond) by utilizing their “Seven Shields of Digital Assassination.”
Torrenzano to Speak at Foreign Press Association
Richard Torrenzano, co-author of Digital Assassination will present to the Foreign Press Association on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at Kennedy's Restaurant in New York.
Rich will take the audience beyond the technology to examine what social media, history, pop culture and futuristic science tells us about the Internet and predict what the end of privacy will mean to society.
The Foreign Press Association of New York is a nonprofit, independent, professional body of foreign correspondents based in the United States. Founded in 1918, the Foreign Press Association represents more than 400 members from 50 different countries. Although the bulk of its members come from Europe, there is not a single region in the world which is not represented among the membership.
Corporate Board Member Featured Richard Torrenzano in Story on Cyber-Attacks
“There is no industry, no corporation, no person who is immune to this,” says Richard Torrenzano, chief executive officer of the Torrenzano Group, a New York firm that works with crisis management of companies that have been attacked. “This is not even the tip of the iceberg. This is just looking at the tip.”
…Moreover, companies must be ready to respond to crisis quickly. Torrenzano defines a day in the fast world of the Internet to be eight hours, making a 48-hour response time on the slow side, nearly the equivalent of waiting a week in digital time. He says key company executives should be trained to respond rapidly to an Internet attack, including managers in legal, human resources, marketing, sales, communications, and investor relations.
Torrenzano to Speak at North Syosset Woodbury Republican Club
Monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at The Woodlands at the TOB Golf Course, South Woods Rd., Woodbury. The guest speaker will be Richard Torrenzano, co-author of the new best-selling, game-changing book Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks. Mr. Torrenzano will take the audience beyond the technology to examine what social media, history, pop culture and futuristic science tells about the Internet and will predict what the end of privacy will mean for civilization. Coffee and refreshments will be served. For information contact 516-921-1000.
Cyber-Security: How to Prevent 'Digital Assassination'
05.10.2012, MANUFACTURING EXECUTIVE
Digital Assassination was featured in David Brousell's "Game Changing Technologies" column for Manufacturing Executive. As we always say, anyone -- regardless of field or sector -- can be a victim of Digital Assassination. Stay Savvy
EXCERPT: When manufacturers think about cyber-security, they often, almost reflexively think about areas of the business such as control systems, enterprise applications, and intellectual property in general.
That's good because as more and more things get connected electronically, the risk of a virus, an attack, or a theft rises, too. Reports of such attacks on just about any type of business or organization surface almost daily. Lockheed Martin, the PBS news organization, Exxon, the International Monetary Fund, the Department of Defense -- you name it -- have all come under attack, as I have reported in these columns over the past couple of years.
In fact, the number of attacks is so huge at the federal government level alone that last July the DOD unveiled its Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace plan, which called for a partnership program with the private sector to enable what the DOD calls a "whole of government approach" to cyber-security.
But the growing issue of cyber-security doesn't just have to do with businesses, government, and other organizational entities. It is also very much about you -- your reputation, your identity, and maybe even your life.
This side of cyber-security is made clear and present in a new book calledDigital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks, by Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis. In particular, it makes clear what's at stake for the individual...
DAVID R. BROUSELL
THV Extra: Protection for your online repuation
04.30.2012, TODAY'S TVH
Little Rock, Ark. (KTHV) -- Three years ago, a teenage boy, using nothing more than a PC, panicked the stock market by putting out a report about the late Steve Jobs.
Jobs was very much alive in 2009, but the kid said he'd had a heart attack. The stock market overreacted, and Apple stock dropped precipitously before the report was corrected.
Richard Torrenzano tells that story and dozens of others in the book he co-authored, "Digital Assassination."
It's not just the Steve Jobs of the world.
"I think if you're a student or a parent or academician, if you're a CEO or a celebrity, if you are a lawyer or a small business owner," said Torrenzano.
These attacks in various forms have their own nomenclature. Google bombs, truth remix, motive laundering and more. All result in a damaged reputation of their intended target.
Josh Carroll is an information security specialist from central Arkansas who told us the unforgiving nature of the Internet is especially hard on the unemployed.
"35 percent of employers now search for new employees online, will actually search their name through a search engine," says Carroll.
If they find a negative result, that could cost them a job. These days, everyone has a camera. That complicates this issue even more.
"Not only do you have to watch what you post online, but now you have to be concerned with what you do in the public eye," Carroll said. Once the comments, blogs, claims, stories, posts have hit their target, they don't go away.
Carroll pointed out, "The rule of thumb IT professionals customarily use is once it's stored on line, it's there always."
God may forgive... but Google never forgets.
Author: Beware of digital assassination
Just as there are Seven Deadly Sins, there are "Seven Swords of Digital Assassination", as outlined by the author Richard Torrenzano, of Oyster Bay.
These are the "Seven Swords: New Media Mayhem, Silent Slashers, Evil Clones, Human Flesh Search Engines, Jihad by Proxy, Truth Remix and Clandestine Combat."
You'd have to get a copy of Torrenzano's new book, "Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks," (St. Martin's Press), to understand them all.
But an audience of about 100 people turned out at LIU Post in Brookville Wednesday afternoon to hear Torrenzano's prime lesson: "In the future, which is now, all of us are going to have our 15 minutes of shame."
By that, he means, it is highly likely we will at some point or another be "digitally assassinated" by, perhaps, a "Silent Slasher", who destroys personal reputations. They have been doing so since Colonial times, when Federalist pamphlets depicted Thomas Jefferson as a "swindler" and an "atheist." He denied the accusations.
Or you might be assassinated by an "Evil Clone," who Torrenzano characterizes as "an evil caricature of you" who displays bad behavior online, and you get the blame.
Torrenzano, chairman and chief executive of Manhattan-based Torrenzano Group, a strategic communications firm specializing in building and protecting corporate reputations, noted that digital assassination has had some tragic consequences lately, including the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 18, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a webcam to spy on his sexual encounters with another man.
Defending yourself against attacks will grow harder as technology expands, Torrenzano said. But all is not lost. The best way to protect yourself? "Show up," Torrenzano urged. In other words, be vigilant about your password and watch your website and other sites you use like a hawk.
Veteran communications expert Bert Cunningham of Hicksville, who was in the audience, said the lecture made him realize "that today everybody is a brand and they have to protect that brand as if it could be attacked at any minute."
Torrenzano Talks Digital Assassination on Phoenix's Money Radio 1510
Famed Author and Digital Assassination Expert Richard Torrenzano To Speak at LIU Post
03.06.2012, LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY: CW POST
Brookville, N.Y. -- Richard Torrenzano, author of "Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation Brand or Business Against Online Attacks", will be speaking on Wednesday, April 18 at 12:30 p.m. at LIU Post.
As a leading advisor to Fortune 500 corporations and public figures, Torrenzano takes a look beyond technology to examine what social media realities, history, pop culture and futuristic science tell us about how to deal with digital assassins. Torrenzano predicts what the end of privacy will mean for civilization and provides a course of actions to turn the tables on your would-be assassins.
If you are an academician, parent or child, physician, lawyer, journalist or politician, board director, CEO, celebrity or high profile individual, small business owner or entrepreneur—all of us are at risk of digital assassination.
Richard Torrenzano is chairman and chief executive of The Torrenzano Group, a strategic communications and high-stakes issues management firm specializing in building and protecting corporate reputations, enhancing shareholder value and helping clients grow their businesses.
This lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Patron's Lounge, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. For more information please call the Office of Community Relations at (516) 299-3500 or email: Jennifer.Fitzpatrick@liu.edu.
Doug McIntyre of KABC 790 Los Angeles Interviewed Torrenzano on McIntyre in the Morning
03.05.2012, TALK RADIO KABC 790 LOS ANGELES
Richard Torrenzano, co-author of Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks, spoke to Doug McIntyre on "McIntyre in the Morning" about what individuals and companies can do to protect their online reputation.
"On June 5, 1968 for reasons known only to himself, Sirhan Sirhan fired a bullet into the head of Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, killing him.
"In May 2005 a Nashville man, for reasons known only to himself, used Wikipedia to fire a bullet directly into the reputation of John Seigenthaler, former Kennedy aide, civil rights hero, and newspaper publisher, character assassinating him to the core."
(John Seigenthaler was) the assistant to AG Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven … John moved to the Soviet Union in 1971 and returned to the US in 1984.
Was it correct? Did it matter?
It did to John. At age 78,” he wrote in USA Today, “I thought I was beyond surprise or hurt at any negative said about me. I was wrong. One sentence in the biography was true. I was Robert Kennedy’s administrative assistant in the early 1960s. I also was his pallbearer.”
Did it really harm Seigenthaler?
We say YES. Seigenthaler's character was assassinated. Not the man himself–but his reputation, his avatar constructed of actions and words spoken and written.
When this happens, more than a shadow self is murdered. Opportunity is murdered. Carefully tended brands, businesses, jobs, celebrities, talent, and personal relationships can all be permanently altered due to untruths.
– from Digital Assassination, Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks by Richard Torrenzano & Mark Davis
Cyber-Attacks Have Dramatic Implications on Public Companies, Torrenzano Tells Corporate Directors
02.28.2012, THE TORRENZANO GROUP
New York, NY, Feb. 28, 2012 — “Cyber-attacks destroy corporate reputation and have become a global epidemic with dramatic implications on how boards of directors must view risk and vulnerabilities.”
This is just one of the arresting statements Richard Torrenzano, chief executive officer, The Torrenzano Group, and co-author of Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks delivered to a full house at the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) on Monday night, February 27.
Torrenzano was part of a special program, entitled "Digital Attacks on Businesses: Protecting your Brand, Reputation and Critical Assets" that focused on damage done to businesses and organizations online.
The presentation featured James D. Wehr, president and chief executive of The Phoenix Companies, Inc. and Theodore P. Augustinos, partner, Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP and co-chair of the firm's Privacy and Data Protection Group.
Torrenzano’s latest book tackles the timely topic, predicting what the end of privacy will mean for civilization -- and providing a course of actions to turn the tables on would-be assassins.
Concluding his presentation, Torrenzano posed seven questions corporate directors need to ask at their next board meeting about digital reputation and brand equity.
1) Has the board considered the negative reputational and financial effects cyber-attacks can have on the company?
2) Does the company have an integrated Internet strategy that considers the needs of all company stakeholders? Does it include a corporate crisis plan?
3) Is the digital strategy just a marketing or customer service tool…or is it a broader plan for the advancement and protection of corporate and brand reputation?
4) Are key company executives, including legal, human resources, marketing, sales, communications and investor relations -- as well as top management organized -- integrated and trained to respond rapidly to an Internet attack?
5) Do key company executives exercise their strategy by conducting digital war games that develop decision trees for actions and inactions? Is their performance independently evaluated?
6) Has the company periodically considered the 3, 4 or 5 likely attacks -- based on its product or service mix, industry or geography?
7) From a corporate governance view, has the company integrated this issue into its overall Enterprise Risk Management process? Who in the C-Suite owns this strategy?
Seven Swords of Digital Assassination Featured in The Lawyers Weekly
Our "Seven Swords of Digital Assassination" were featured in this week's Lawyer Weekly! Even lawyers aren't safe from trolls and hackers. Stay savvy!
Gabriel Wisdom of Business Talk Radio Interviews Author Richard Torrenzano on Protecting Your Reputation Online
02.14.2012, THE GABRIEL WISDOM SHOW
Gabriel Wisdom, seasoned investment advisor and a well-known broadcaster, interviewed 'Digital Assassination' co-author Richard Torrenzano on Wednesday evening to discuss the new book and steps businesses and individuals can take to protect themselves, their brand and their business from online attacks.
Digital Assassination Excerpt Featured on Leading Military History, Current Events, and Fiction Website
01.10.2012, COMMAND POSTS
HUMAN FLESH SEARCH ENGINE AND CLANDESTINE COMBAT
By: RICHARD TORRENZANO, AND MARK DAVIS
Human Flesh Search Engine
IN THE 2007 WESTERN 3:10 to Yuma, Ben Wade, a character played by Russell Crowe, is being held in a hotel in the town of Contention by marshals waiting for a train to take Wade to trial. One of Wade’s confederates surveys the seedy frontier town and realizes that it is populated by useful lowlifes. So he promises $200 to every man who kills a marshal. The offer instantly transforms the men of Contention from a crowd of ambling, shiftless drunks into an army out to liberate Ben Wade.
The difference between this scene and today’s Internet is that one need not offer $200, just the chance to anonymously harm someone. The Human Flesh Search Engine, a Chinese netizen term that originated on an Internet bulletin board, began by singling out antisocial acts on social media, using crowd-sourcing to locate perpetrators and national shaming to punish them.
The Human Flesh Search Engine draws on the power of social media, activating digital mobs to launch an attack on a target from multiple directions.
Drinks Night with Authors of Digital Assassination
Is Google Out to Get You? Everyone’s reputation is at risk on line, say Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis, two leading advisors to Fortune 500 corporations and public figures and the authors of Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks (St. Martin’s). From false Wikipedia entries to Yelp attacks, obscene fabricated images to Facebook privacy concerns, every CEO and celebrity, entrepreneur, lawyer, journalist and politician is at risk of digital assassination.
On March 19 at Pete’s Tavern, 6-8 PM, Torrenzano and Davis will talk about the evolution of character assassination in the digital age, how your own words can be used against you or your sources, and how to protect yourself against cyber villains.
Richard Torrenzano is chief executive of The Torrenzano Group, a New York strategic communications and high-stakes issues management firm that helps organizations take control of how they are perceived. Mark Davis is a former White House speechwriter and a senior director of the Washington-based White House Writers Group. Two free drinks for members and first-time potential members.
129 E. 18th Street
New York, NY
Digital Assassination begins as a willful act by someone who wishes to do harm through the Internet. It unfolds as a deliberate campaign to spread harmful lies the assassin has concocted or as an attempt to take a fact grossly out of context or embellish it, making an ordinary shortcoming seem ghastly.
The trends are based on lessons from the top ten digital attacks of 2011, also announced today.
Beginning today - just in time for Black Friday shopping - Barnes and Noble, Fifth Avenue @ East 46 Street in Manhattan will have the new book Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks, co-authored by Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis in their front window...replacing the Steve Jobs book.
Co-Author Torrenzano Appears on Hannity Radio Show This Afternoon
1) Everyone is susceptible to digital assassination
-once its on the web its always on the web, even if you get it to go down in the ratings of search engines
2) Facebook, Twitter and other social media
-Control your own message on these sites.
-You need a presence on these sites but post wisely.
-Parents need to have an understanding of these sites and work with children in using appropriately.
-Anything you post can be used against you in job searches, college applications, etc.
3) Know What Is Out There About You And Control Your Message
-Using Google Alerts, Yelp, Message boards etc.
-Link to trade associations you are involved with, sprinkle with keywords
-Fill out a Google Profile
-Know when to fight back against things that are factually incorrect, but beware it could create a backlash.
-Try and get information you don't want out there ranked lower so it isn't the first thing that comes up in a search.
4) Sometimes It Is Better To Ignore
-Barbara Streisand effect: Years ago a small website published a photo of her Malibu home. Few people would have seen it on this website. She sued them for millions, and it brought attention to the website and the photo and as a result the photo ended up widely distributed throughout the web.
Co-Authors Torrenzano and Davis Guest Post on Forbes.com's CIO Central
Digital Assassins Invade The Corporate Suite
Richard Torrenzano, CEO of The Torrenzano Group, and Mark Davis, of the White House Writers Group, are authors of Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks (St. Martin’s Press).
“We’re not talking about killing anyone . . . After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That’s only going to go up—maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel.”
–“Oil industry” spokesman for Vivoleum, producer of candles made from human flesh (well, not really.)
Google, multinational banks and even Sony Playstation have been engulfed by cyber attacks, leaving executives fully alert for criminals who exploit the Internet’s open environment to mount “smash and grab” attacks on valuable data and intellectual property.
Business leaders are just beginning to grasp, however, the extent to which this same technology also empowers digital assassins to deface and devalue brands and businesses.
Whether from activists, like the quote above from the corporate impersonators the Yes Men(they call it “identity correction”), disgruntled employees, blackmailers, and ‘trolls’ who, like the Joker in the Batman movie The Dark Knight, “just want to watch the world burn,” technology amplifies malice, making slurs instant, global, searchable and eternal.
What can be done to protect business, brands and reputation?
Could you become the victim of a "silent slasher"? - Jim Blasingame, The Small Business Advocate® Show Interviews Davis
Is the notion of privacy outdated in modern society? Mark Davis joins Jim Blasingame to discuss the impact of modern technology on personal privacy and business brand control, and how to protect yourself and your business.
The show airs nationally on the radio (since 1997) and is simulcast worldwide on the Internet (since 1998) for two hours every weekday from 7-9 am Eastern. Radio affiliates often replay the show in other day-parts, including weekends.
Jim conducts over 1,000 live interviews annually with the top experts and thought-leaders - the Brain Trust - in their fields, plus many regular small business owners.
Innovate Arkansas Features Digital Assassination in Publisher's Note
11.07.2011, INNOVATE ARKANSAS
Have You Endured Your 15 Minutes of Internet Shame?
By Jeff Hankins
While the explosion of social media has created another multi-billion dollar marketing industry and connected everyone with long-lost friends, it has also turned reputation management upside down.
Take a moment to search for your name or your company's name on Google. You might be surprised what turns up through a seemingly obscure comment on a website you didn't even know existed.
Everyone is going to face "15 minutes of shame" Torrenzano says, and most people and companies aren't equipped to tackle it. Competitors, disgruntled employees and "trolls who like to inflict pain" anonymously visit blogs and post harmful information.
Attacks are nothing new - graffiti was used in ancient Rome when people had scores to settle, and then the walls would be repainted. Today's graffiti on the Internet, however, is permanent, shared widely in an instant through social media and readily accessible in search engine results.
Business Leaders Learn How to Protect Their Business from Online Attacks
11.04.2011, WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE
PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN, Ark. (November 4, 2011) — “In the future, which is now, everyone will have 15 minutes of shame,” says Richard Torrenzano, co-author of the book “Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks.” From the ancient Romans who painted vicious political comments on the walls of buildings to Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton taunting and teasing each other about personal secrets through early media, attacking individuals with words can be found throughout history. Unlike these historical examples, attacks today become a permanent part of a business’s reputation with internet archive sites like The Way Back Machine.
Members of the Northwest Arkansas Council, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, and various business leaders had the opportunity to listen to Torrenzano’s presentation about his book on October 31 and November 1 at the Holiday Inn in Springfield, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, and at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
Torrenzano warned that everyone (individuals & small businesses as well as large corporations) will eventually have their brand and/or reputation attacked by online “assassins”. His view is that it’s not a matter of if, but when.
Torrenzano described seven distinct ways you can be attacked online; from “Silent Slashes" (online damage to your business and reputation by unfelt cuts) to “Evil Clones” (confessions to something terrible using your name and image) and everything scary in between. By the end of the presentation I think everyone in the room was Googling their own name and brand- just to be sure it hadn’t already happened!
While Torrenzano gave a few tips on how to monitor your online reputation with tracking tools (Google Alerts is a must in my opinion), he insisted there’s really no way to prevent this stuff from happening. He stressed the importance of having strong SEO (search engine optimization) in place to counter-balance the negative. If (or when) your name or brand is attacked and actually ranks in the search engines, SEO can help ensure the other 9 listings are controlled by you. And we couldn’t agree more. SEO is not only useful to help people find you, but also to protect you. Remember, "sticks and stones may break your bones, but in the digital age names will ruin your reputation, cost you jobs and contracts, and destroy your career."
“If you’re a CEO or celebrity, entrepreneur, politician, journalist or even parent—there is a risk today of digital assassination,” says Richard Torrenzano, who helms NYC’s The Torrenzano Group and has managed some of the most visible global corporate crises of our lifetime.
“We’ve seen online attacks ruin the lives of teenagers and end in suicides, and we’ve seen them hurt businesses and brands—like what happened to Sony PlayStation, or even to banks or celebrities that have been hacked,” he says. “Regardless of who you are, if you have a name, and you have a brand to protect, this is one of the most important issues facing you today.”
“According to the black and white hats we interviewed about this, the danger will only increase 50-100 fold in the next two to five year—thanks in large part to the open architecture of the Internet,” adds co-author of the new St. Martin’s Press title and former White House speechwriter Mark Davis, who is also the senior director of DC-based White House Writers Group.
New York counselor Richard Torrenzano and former White House speechwriter Mark Davis have authored "Digital Assassination," warning people and companies about attacks on websites, some of them un-moderated, that can destroy reputations and businesses.
The book was published today by St. Martin’s Press at $25.99 and is available in hardcopy at Amazon and also via Kindle.
Companies and people are being hit with false Wikipedia entries, false and malicious entries on un-moderated websites such as yelp.com, obscene fake images, and misuse of material on Facebook, say the authors.
The web has effectively brought an end to privacy and individuals and companies must start fighting back, they advise.
Objects of “stealth” attacks may not even know what’s being said about them in various web venues, they point out in a chapter headed, “Silent Slashers.”
Gossip-oriented websites have pushed aside traditional media and do anything but “balanced reporting,” they say.
To continue reading "New Book Warns of Rep Attacks on Web" click HERE.
Digital Assassination Released
New Book: 'Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand or Business Against Online Attacks' Released Today
"In the future, which is now, everyone will have 15 minutes of shame."
Co-authors Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis, leading advisors to Fortune 500 companies and public figures, predict what the end of privacy will mean for civilization—and provide a course of action to turn the tables on your would-be assassins.
You claim that “In the future, which is now, everyone will have 15 minutes of shame.” Can you expand on your statement?
Richard Torrenzano, my co-author and I believe we are already in a full-blown digital crisis in which anyone can be subjected to a reputational attack that is global, instant and forever.
Some examples: A political candidate has a campaign website put up that looks real, only it is seeded with strange and inflammatory statements that the candidate would never make. The owner of a hotel is unfairly accused on a review site of hosting prostitutes. A teen-age girl commits suicide after being taunted by a middle-aged woman digitally posing as a teen-age boy. A woman who has appeared on popular television shows is portrayed in a lascivious way on an online dating site, complete with her home address and phone number.
The ‘shame,’ of course, really belongs to the digital assassins who perpetrate these attacks. At the rate things are going, this will likely happen to everyone at one time or another. Hence, our 15 minutes.
Bloomberg London Interviews Digital Assassination Author Richard Torrenzano on News Corp. Phone Hacking Fallout
July 18 - Richard Torrenzano, chief executive officer of the Torrenzano Group, discusses the possibility of a congressional probe into the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal. He speaks to Andrea Catherwood on Bloomberg Television's "Last Word."
Bloomberg's Taking Stock Host Pimm Fox Interviews Digital Assassination Author Richard Torrenzano on News Corp Hack Attacks
July 15 - Richard Torrenzano, chief executive officer of the Torrenzano Group, talks about the resignation of Les Hinton as CEO of News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co. amid accusations of phone hacking by some of the company's journalists. Torrenzano speaks with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television's Taking Stock