Stay Ahead: Insights from APCO

Companies Risk “Digital Doomsday” as Employees Return to Offices

Jay Solomon, senior director in APCO Worldwide’s Washington, D.C. office, discusses the increase in cyber-attacks which could be magnified as employees return to their physical office spaces:

"Corporate offices in the United States are beginning to reopen as social distancing mandates tied to COVID-19 ease. The hope is that businesses across the country can return to normal. But a lasting threat from the pandemic exists on the cyber front. Companies are now facing a potential “doomsday” scenario that could play out over months, if not years.

In this environment, companies will need to be on heightened alert as their offices begin to reopen. Employees should practice extreme digital hygiene and use two-step authentication before entering company networks. Company network administrators need to be prepared for attackers laying dormant in their systems.”

Digital Lock

emPOWER Outbreak 2020: Managing Your Response to COVID-19

emPOWER logo

To help clients manage crises related to COVID-19, APCO has developed emPOWER Outbreak 2020, which allows organizations to connect virtually from the safety of their offices and homes, play out scenarios online, evaluate decision-making and resources in real time, and come away with valuable insights that can translate immediately to protocol and actions.

Click here for more information.


APCO colleagues are sharing on-the-ground insights and analysis on the impact of COVID-19 in markets around the world. Today's dispatch from APCO's Washington D.C. office describes a growing tension between the use of innovative technology products and the personal data required to run them, and the paradox that creates for privacy and free speech. For more information, please contact Aftan Snyder.
The pandemic has only increased tensions around user data, privacy, and regulations. Even before the pandemic, surveys showed that a majority of Americans think that data collection by both corporations and governments poses more risks than benefits. And yet Americans see some cases where data collection is useful, like in assessing terrorism threats or trying to improve low-performing schools. Finding the line where ‘data collection for ill’ stops and ‘data collection for good’ begins is murky at best.
Governments struggle to keep up with the frequently-evolving landscape on data collection, and on tech innovation as a whole. Europe has implemented the General Data Protection Regulations; countries like Japan or New Zealand established specific data enforcement agencies; meanwhile the United States lacks both regulation and enforcement. Each country addressing the issue differently prevents a consensus from forming and complicates the setting of standards.
As the use of tech products grows, and the data required to power them continue to lack clear and consistent regulation, tech companies acquire a degree of power in forcing conversations about the use of its products. For example, Amazon suspended police use of its facial recognition technology due to problems of bias. Twitter has labeled a series of President Donald Trump’s tweets to mark them as needing fact-checking or inciting violence. The latter example is interesting because it raises questions of free speech: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects companies from being liable for what their users say online, but expectations are changing for how and what liabilities citizens want companies to assume. This warrants a discussion about whether to revise Section 230 and narrow the scope of liability protections; or to introduce other online censorship laws.

Some Positive News

  • Promise to humanity: Teenage brothers launched a movement to encourage young people to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, spurring around 5,000 pledges, CNN
  • Applauding house plants: Spain’s Gran Teatre del Liceu welcomed a full opera house of 2,292 plants for a string quartet performance of Puccini's CrisantemiCNET
  • Encouraging vaccine results: China National Biotec Group announced positive results from an early human trial of a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Reuters

More Tips from Around the Water Cooler


COVID-19, as we know, has exacerbated many of the inequalities and inequities that we knew existed in our society. In other words, the gap has widened for many."

        - Sarah A. Soule, Stanford University Professor of Organizational Behavior

"Ambition has to be huge; the world has never seen a challenge on the scale of the pandemic. You only have to see the heartbreak in so many families, in so many countries across the world as the health burden, the personal burden of this disease becomes increasingly apparent and you don't have to look very far down your own high street to see the impact on the economy.”

        - Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General
The APCO team is working with clients globally to manage this crisis, and we stand ready to support your needs. For more resources from APCO, including our latest research, information on how we can help or to contact us, visit