Dezenhall on cyberattacks

December 4, 2000


This is one of an ongoing series of articles on interactive marketing leaders who are doing things other marketers can learn from. They're not yet household names, but will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're the emerging leaders of an emerging marketing discipline

Name, rank and serial number: Eric Dezenhall, 38. Bachelor’s in Political Science, Dartmouth University, 1984. White House communications office, 1982-83. Joined public relations agency Porter Novelli in 1984. Cofounded Nicholas-Dezenhall in Washington in 1987. Published nail ‘em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses, 1999.

Mantra: "If you’re guilty, repent. If you’re innocent, attack."

How the Internet enables cyber-attacks: "The Internet provides anonymity and a proxyfor authority; it redistributes power. (Information on the Net) looks like it’s been vetted by an intelligent person. In fact, it might just be garbage."

Why cyberattacks are difficult to handle: "No. 1, it’s hard to find who is doing it. No. 2, if you do find them, it becomes an issue of big companies picking on the little innocent. It can become a news story,even if the little company is dishonest."

How to stop them: "Hunt the attacker down and make them pay." Also, "I’m very big on getting involved with the FBI and law enforcement."

What CEOs should do: "I tell them, ‘You have to become known as mean in this area, or this won’t stop.’ If you have a peaceful solution, pursue it vigorously. But in the 10% ofcases that are attacks as opposed to communications differences—respond.

"Some attackers don’t want to compromise. Some situations are shooting wars and there’s no way around it, so thesolution is to learn how to shoot better."

Parting shot: "If you live by the sword, you may die by the sword. But if you live by the olive branch, you can still die by the sword."

Michael Krauss is a partner with DiamondCluster International in Chicago.
He can be reached at







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