Disinformation Risk: Are Bogus Whistleblower Complaints from Bad Actors Causing Corporate Havoc?

“Misinformation” and “disinformation” have long been mainstays in the political arena, the climate change debate and even in the public discourse over COVID-19 vaccines. Misinformation represents information that is wrong, a challenge every business must deal with from time to time, whether in the press, analyst communications, social media, discussions at government levels, or other venues. Disinformation is also information that not only is wrong, but is intentionally wrong. Often relatively easy to launch and hard to defend, disinformation may become a common phenomenon in the business environment in a wide variety of forums and perpetrated by many types of bad actors over the forthcoming decade, including nation states, political extremists, extortionists or disgruntled employees.

Disinformation campaigns may target specific companies or even whole industries. No organization can expect immunity. This week, Protiviti issued a Flash Report intended to alert companies to a specific disinformation issue: a growing trend of hoax whistleblower complaints. This new disinformation trend is complicating an already challenging IT and information security environment in which cyber breaches, ransomware attacks, pervasive phishing scams and numerous other threats continue to vex organizations.

A valued channel for feedback is being abused

With some being confidential and others being anonymous as well, hotlines are an essential and valued source of input, feedback and intel on a wide variety of topics. These channels can help expose dysfunctional issues, toxicity in the workplace, irresponsible business behavior and even illegal activity. Unfortunately, a growing number of companies are receiving anonymous whistleblower complaints that are proving to be hoaxes. Unlike other phishing scams and bogus emails, the whistleblower scams have a high level of sophistication and can spur time-consuming and resource-intensive investigations.

Protiviti is recommending specific actions companies can take to mitigate this potential disinformation risk. You can read those recommended steps by downloading the free Flash Report from our website.

This blog was originally posted on The Protiviti View.

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