Mitigation of Online Threats and Disparagement
We provide concierge-level assistance to high-profile individuals and entities facing online personal and reputational attacks, threats and disparagement. IGI offers a comprehensive suite of services to: investigate and identify the source of the threat and determine its full scope; attack the problem both online and in the physical world, via security enhancements and mitigation and minimization techniques; tailor a communications and public relations strategy related to the incident; and provide counsel on potential legal remedies through its affiliated law firm.
As needed, IGI also collaborates with clients’ existing legal or public relations counsel in crafting appropriate responses to the online threat or crisis.
IGI’s Mitigation of Online Threats and Disparagement services include:
Addressing Threats Online
In order to formulate an appropriate response, IGI first develops an informed assessment of the scope, impact, and seriousness of the negative online content, as well as the availability of the client or impacted parties’ personal information online. IGI’s initial investigative results are then used to determine parties’ potential motives and thereby inform IGI’s recommendations to the client. Depending on the situation, possible responses and recommendations could include mitigation and removal techniques, public relations and communications efforts, legal action, physical security enhancements, and educational and tutorial services in social media and online content management.
If a client’s threat – whether impersonation, harassment or cyberstalking – is coming from an anonymous or unknown entity or individual, identification of the source is integral in order to determine the best response. To this end, IGI deploys sophisticated cyber forensics resources, public records and social media research, and human intelligence efforts to identify responsible individuals. Where appropriate, and in conjunction with the client and in consideration of their unique concerns and objectives, IGI may coordinate with law enforcement agencies regarding the threat.
Reducing Online Vulnerabilities
After determining the scope and seriousness of the online threat, IGI may take steps to remove, to the extent possible, the nefarious online content and also minimize the availability of a client’s publicly-available online information. IGI’s potential responses may include removing a client’s personal information from search results, collaborating with media outlets to reduce exposure in existing publications, and coordinating with appropriate third-parties to remove trademarked content online. IGI also can educate clients and stakeholders on current best-practices related to online behaviors, password management, and personal profile monitoring strategies. IGI also can continue to monitor the situation and address new concerns, should they arise.
- We were retained by a high net worth family upon discovery that unknown parties had perpetrated a scheme to impersonate via the internet a prominent member of their family. Using a fake web domain and email addresses to further the impersonation, the perpetrators convinced American business executives to disclose proprietary information by stating that our client intended to invest in their companies. Retained to identify and stop the perpetrators, we quickly assessed the scope of damage and identified and located the impersonator. We also filed an action with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) to seize and shut down the fake domain, communicated with the contacted executives to gather evidence and exonerate our client, and developed evidence on the perpetrators that we provided to law enforcement. Since the conclusion of the engagement described above, the client continued to turn to our team for a variety of issues, including to conduct a legal investigation into the professional and personal conduct of the chief executive of one of the family’s portfolio companies, and to conduct background vetting of potential employees.
- A news organization retained IGI when one of their reporters was subject to disturbing online threats from what appeared to be multiple individuals. We conducted online forensic work to track and identify the sources of the threatening communications, analyzed stories written by the reporter, developed a public records profile of the likely subject, and analyzed the content of the known threats and compared them to known writings of the subject. Our investigation, which determined that the threats were generated by the subject using multiple fake online profiles, informed our legal response and strategy on behalf of the client, which included briefing the appropriate law enforcement agencies, preparing cease and desist letters and an application for a judicial “stay away” order.
- The chief executive officer of a U.S. company retained IGI when an unknown individual impersonated the client in an apparent online effort to disparage the client. Working under our legal supervision, IGI traced internet protocol addresses to a specific geographic location, and through additional public records and social media research, IGI investigators identified the individual responsible for the impersonation. We documented and reported the findings of our investigation to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, at which point the online threats to our client ceased.
- We were retained by a high-profile client in the entertainment industry to address a number of online threats and incidents of harassment. We first developed a profile of the client’s online and public records presence to identify specific areas of vulnerability. Working with our attorneys, we then worked with numerous third-party commercial aggregators of public data to remove personal information linked to our client and their family. We also took legal action to minimize public visibility of our client’s assets and personal information and worked with media outlets to reduce our client’s exposure in existing publications. The results of our legal and investigative work significantly reduced the online profile of our client, which we continued to monitor and act upon as new information appeared on the internet.
- A prominent international organization retained our attorneys and investigators to conduct an internal investigation after learning that confidential documents and information had been misappropriated and leaked to journalists. Our scope of work included determining the extent and circumstances of the breach and conducting a security audit to assist the client in improving its document and IT management systems. In the course of our investigation, we captured and searched terabytes of data from the entity’s file and exchange servers, analyzed financial records and materials published by individuals believed to have received misappropriated documents, and interviewed witnesses. The investigation and audit were supervised by our attorneys, who ensured compliance with legal and client-driven privacy considerations and provided legal counsel to the client through privileged communications and work product while ensuring that privilege was maintained over applicable portions of the investigation. Our deliverables included a comprehensive report and presentation of our findings and recommendations to the organization’s board, which included a factual narrative detailing how certain individuals misappropriated and leaked proprietary documents and information. During the course of the engagement, we provided the client with written legal opinions on specific issues and coordinated with the client’s director of media relations to minimize negative coverage.