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Reading time: 2 minutes

Don’t make your reader have to climb a mountain.

I got an email today from The North Face explaining a data breach. Reading the email was like climbing the north face.

This is the opening section of the email …

On December 13, we detected unauthorized activities on a part of our IT systems, apparently carried out by external threat actors.  

Upon detecting the unauthorized activities, we immediately took steps to contain, assess and remediate the incident, including activating our internal incident response plan, hiring leading external cybersecurity experts to support with response activities and temporarily shutting down all IT systems that might be affected.  

By December 15, we were able to complete the ejection of the unauthorized actors from our IT environment and we have now substantially restored all impacted IT systems and operations.  

We have promptly involved the competent law enforcement agencies, that are supporting us with investigations, and we already notified the competent Data Protection Authority, as required under applicable law.

I think it is a fair assumption that only a small percentage of North Face’s customers work in IT. I don’t know how many of that group would talk about “external threat actors”. And customers don’t care about how they fixed the problem; they care about their personal data.

This is my version:

On 13 December there was unauthorized activity in part of our IT systems.  We immediately shut down all the IT systems that might have been affected so that we could fix the problem.

By 15 December, we had ejected the intruders and we have now substantially restored all our IT systems.  

We have involved law enforcement agencies and notified the Data Protection Authority.

The original version was 124 words with a reading age (in the Hemingway app) of grade 12. My version is 63 words with a grade 7 reading age.

The lesson here is, if you want your emails to be read you need to use fewer, simpler words.

And if you want some help transforming what you write then get in touch with me.

Gary Bandy Limited is a company registered in Cardiff, number 5660437.

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