As Communicators, What Can We Learn from LulzSec?

The attacks launched by LulzSec against Fox.com, Sony, AZ Department of Public Safety, etc., are being described by some security pros as technically impressive and by others as “neither original nor technically adept.”  Of more interest to me than the technical merits of the attacks was LulzSec’s remarkable ability to quickly develop a brand and […]

The attacks launched by LulzSec against Fox.com, Sony, AZ Department of Public Safety, etc., are being described by some security pros as technically impressive and by others as “neither original nor technically adept.”  Of more interest to me than the technical merits of the attacks was LulzSec’s remarkable ability to quickly develop a brand and […]

The attacks launched by LulzSec against Fox.com, Sony, AZ Department of Public Safety, etc., are being described by some security pros as technically impressive and by others as “neither original nor technically adept.”  Of more interest to me than the technical merits of the attacks was LulzSec’s remarkable ability to quickly develop a brand and effectively publicize their criminal activity. They started by basing their name on the Internet meme “in it for the lulz (laughs)” and then tapped into the full power of Twitter through their “The Lulz Boat” handle (@lulzsec), which led to clever and frequent tweets that contained equal parts humor, defiance and legitimate breaking news about the group’s exploits.

When all was said and done, The Lulz Boat was followed by more than 280,000, including many reputable journalists, had a score of 85 and achieved “Celebrity” status.  And if you skim through reader comments on any number of the articles about LulzSec, you’ll even see some people defending these criminals and applauding their “openness.”  How’s that for a twisted sort of message penetration and advocacy building?

Reputable companies can learn a thing or two from LulzSec: the power of social branding, the effectiveness of Twitter to proactively shape public opinion, and the importance of staying vigilant against those who might try to sabotage your brand.

On that last point: the subjective nature of hacktivists such as LulzSec has shown us that no organization is immune to attack.  We’d all be wise to ensure that we are doing what we can to mitigate the impact of a data breach, which includes making sure you’re prepared to intelligently manage communications around a breach (and perfecting your Blue Steel stare).

For more on LulzSec, check out the following:

Damon Poeter of PC Magazine’s “50 Days of Mayhem: How LulzSec Changed Hacktivism Forever.”  Damon recaps the timeline of LulzSec’s antics and examines the group’s branding efforts.

Dan Kaplan of SC Magazine’s “The Legacy of LulzSec.”  Dan looks at the impact of hacktivism on information security, offering two potential scenarios.

Arik Hesseldahl of All Things D’s “Despite All the Attention, LulzSec’s Hackers Failed.”   Arik assesses LulzSec as “a bunch of misguided young people with too much time on their hands and precious few constructive outlets for their considerable energy.”

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