Cybersecurity has become a significant reality in modern societies, as people provide their intimate and personal information to the digital space. This data can be proved very useful for the companies themselves, but, without a doubt, cybersecurity attacks and data leaks are a new type of crisis that companies are forced to take into consideration. From an academic perspective, data leaks and their effect on the reputation of the companies is a topic that has not been examined in depth by scholars and thus, the aim of this study was to add value in the crisis communication field by examining this new type of crisis. In addition, this research attempted to analyze this crisis within the context of social media, as they also constitute a new reality for crisis communication. Drawing upon the Situational Crisis Communication theory and the Social Mediated Crisis Communication theory, the present study tried to identify whether the crisis responsibility, the pre-crisis reputation and the CEO’s credibility can influence the reputation of an organization after a data leak incident. Taking the Facebook - Cambridge Analytica scandal as an example, a digital survey was formulated and disseminated to Facebook users globally. The results of the 155 respondents indicated that crisis responsibility and pre-crisis reputation can have a significant effect on the reputation of an organization after a cybersecurity incident. Most importantly, this research proved that the CEO’s credibility is a significant predictor of the post-crisis reputation of an organization, but unfortunately, no predictors of Secondary Crisis Communications were found significant in this study. The outcomes of the research imply the extension of the SCCT model to the cybersecurity crises, as well as the addition of the CEO’s credibility as an indicator of the post-crisis reputation of the organization. Next to this, the managerial and theoretical implications are provided in the last section of the study. To conclude, recommendations for future research urge scholars to dive into the examination of the complete model of II SCCT theory within the context of data leaks but most importantly to identify the predictors of the public’s engagement on social media after a crisis, since it is proved to be detrimental and unpredicted so far.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, business, Crisis Communication, Cyber Security, Crisis Responsibility, CEO, Credibility, Pre-Crisis Reputation, Post-Crisis Reputation, Secondary Crisis, Communications
Thesis Advisor Y. wang
Persistent URL
Series Media & Business
C. Sideri. (2019, June 27). Data leaks An investigation of a new cybersecurity crisis and its results on post-crisis reputation and users’ engagement on social media.. Media & Business. Retrieved from