All Hydro employees were met by black screens when they came to work in the morning of March 19, 2019 and the cyber-attack affected Hydro's global organization for several weeks.
"This has been one of the most challenging events for Hydro's communication department ever, but we decided early that two important principles should be laying the guides for our communication strategy: open and frequent communication," says Inger Sethov, Hydro's Executive Vice President for Communication and Public Affairs.
On behalf of Hydro, Sethov received the award from jury leader Janne Stang Dahl, communications director at the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, during the autumn seminar in Bergen.
"It was clear on an early stage that open and frequent communication was the right way for us. It was more challenging to reach out to 35.000 employees when normal lines of communication were down," says Sethov.
Hydro quickly put alternative channels in place, and saw that it worked, both internally and externally. It enabled employees to be better equipped to manage the situation, to limit their scope and to contribute to safe and secure operation.
"Through daily meetings we shared the information we could, while external markets and stakeholders responded positively to communicating about developments and the way back to normal operations," Sethov says, emphasizing that the case is still under police investigation.
How did the cyber attack impact Hydro and how did the communications department work to support the business through the crisis? Watch Video:
Hydro is the first private business to receive the Norwegian Communication Association's transparency award. Among the former winners is Oslo District Court, Tale Maria "Helsesista" Krohn Engvik and Trondheim kommune.
In their reasoning the jury writes:
Hydro goes a long way in sharing information about the attack and the implications of this business. Their communication strategy during crisis has been to share the most information both during and after the attack, both internally in the organization and with public authorities, and externally with customers, other businesses and society at large.
The company's open communication about what happens when a company is affected by a cyber-attack has attracted international attention. Their openness is in this case of great societal significance, helping to raise awareness and knowledge of what data attacks can do with a business and what ripple effects it provides. Cyber-attacks are an increasing societal problem, and can be devastating to corporations and institutions and in its utmost consequence society as a whole.
The Norwegian Communication Association’s Transparency Award ("Åpenhetsprisen") is awarded to organisations, institutions, companies or individuals, who have contributed to highlighting and promoting transparency and visibility in relation to Norwegian society, political system, or public and private enterprises.