How TalkTalk did the walk-walk: strategic reputational repair in a cyber-attack

Derrick Boakye, David Sarpong, Dirk Meissner, George Ofosu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Cyber-attacks that generate technical disruptions in organisational operations and damage the reputation of organisations have become all too common in the contemporary organisation. This paper explores the reputation repair strategies undertaken by organisations in the event of becoming victims of cyber-attacks.
Design/methodology/approach – For developing the authors’ contribution in the context of the Internet service providers’ industry, the authors draw on a qualitative case study of TalkTalk, a British telecommunications company providing business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) Internet
services, which was a victim of a “significant and sustained” cyber-attack in October 2015. Data for the enquiry is sourced from publicly available archival documents such as newspaper articles, press releases, podcasts and parliamentary hearings on the TalkTalk cyber-attack.
Findings – The findings suggest a dynamic interplay of technical and rhetorical responses in dealing with cyber-attacks. This plays out in the form of marshalling communication and mortification techniques, bolstering image and riding on leader reputation, which serially combine to strategically orchestrate
reputational repair and stigma erasure in the event of a cyber-attack.
Originality/value – Analysing a prototypical case of an organisation in dire straits following a cyber-attack, the paper provides a systematic characterisation of the setting-in-motion of strategic responses to manage, revamp and ameliorate damaged reputation during cyber-attacks, which tend to negatively shape the
evaluative perceptions of the organisation’s salient audience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Technology & People
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2023


  • cyber-attack
  • information technology
  • organisational reputation
  • stigma
  • TalkTalk


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