With the rise of geopolitical threats in recent years, organizations are finding the major impact that misinformation has had on making critical decisions in a time of crisis. International SOS has seen businesses of all sizes struggle with analyzing the slew of information that is available 24/7 during a time of a crisis, and using trusted sources to inform decisions in a timely manner, particularly for the health and security of employees and ensuring business continuity. 

Misinformation poses several risks, including reputational damage, financial losses and even jeopardizing the security of an organization. More recently, we’ve seen this with the Israel-Hamas conflict, where disinformation continues to be spread online at rapid rates, and the spread of crisis-related misinformation is expected to only increase. As the conflict continues, actionable intelligence will play a critical role in making informed decisions and implementing effective measures. 

Impactful risk mitigation is often directly connected to access to reputable information. Having such access to apolitical, trusted information allows organizations to have a better understanding of how the crisis has evolved, how it can change over time and what to do about it. In an era where information is continuous and social media continues to be a major source of news, distinguishing fact from fiction is a complex task, especially when sharing the information to inform others for health and security reasons. 

With this said, there are tools and different approaches that companies can use that will continue to be powerful in ensuring business resilience as it relates to accessing reliable information to make informed business decisions, regardless of where the staff is located in relation to the crisis. 

  1. Expert analysis and consultation:
    1. Engage with geopolitical and security experts to gain a nuanced understanding of the evolving situation. Leverage external insights by these experts to inform and counterbalance potential biases in information sources.
  2. Educate employees
    1. One of the first lines of defense is to educate upper management and leadership on the dynamics of misinformation. By creating a culture that is able to discern between true and false, organizations can empower their teams to critically assess information sources, identify red flags, and verify the credibility of data all while staying calm and going through the correct protocols. It is essential to hold meetings with these employees to keep them up to date on the ever changing landscape occurring, answering any questions they may have and aligning on what intel is true or false. This information can then be filtered through the organization as well.
  3. Implementing analytics:
    1. Leverage analytics tools to monitor for any trending news that can help to identify misinformation trends before they gain traction. This proactive approach can assist with keeping a pulse on the stories coming out and getting ahead of news before it breaks, leading to the ability to respond swiftly and accurately, mitigating potential risks.
  4. Establish a crisis communication plan:
    1. Develop a comprehensive crisis communication plan that includes protocols for dealing with misinformation. Clearly define roles and responsibilities in the event of a crisis, including who is responsible for verifying and communicating accurate information. This should be a team of leaders who are well versed in the ongoing conflict and have stayed up to date with security experts and intelligence agencies that the team has worked alongside. 
  5. Real-time threat intelligence:
    1. Invest in real-time threat intelligence platforms that provide up-to-the-minute insights into potential risks. This investment will save time and stress for the executive or crisis management teams. 
  6. Conduct regular audits: 
    1. Consistently audit internal communication channels while the conflict continues to identify vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Use the findings to update and refine information verification strategies to ensure all employees are aligned on verified information and not spreading falsities. 
  7. Scenario-based training:
    1. Conduct regular scenario-based training exercises to simulate real-world situations involving misinformation. Presumably, more so when major world events are occurring to ensure the skills of decision-makers are up to date and foster a proactive organizational culture that anticipates and adapts to evolving threats.
  8. Review:
    1. Establish a feedback loop for continuous improvement. Regularly review and update counter-misinformation strategies based on emerging trends, technological advancements, breaking news updates and the evolving nature of digital threats.

 Access to reliable information can make the difference between one organization to the next. With this ever-changing security landscape that we live in, preparing in advance for geopolitical shifts will empower executives and leadership teams to make effective decisions that are reliable and protect an organization's workforce and business continuity.