Drip… Drip… Drip…
Posted on: November 28, 2010
Recently it was reported online that the now infamous whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks was “outleaked” by several German Twitter users. WikiLeaks was all set to release yet another trove of top-secret government documents when Deutsch Twitterers snagged an embargoed copy of the German newspaper Der Spiegel, laying out all the secretive details before WikiLeaks could post it themselves. Ahhh the irony!
In a world where the idea of privacy and secrets is increasingly moving the way of the typewriter, we are all subject to having personal and secret information about ourselves and our companies thrust onto the Internet for the world to see and dissect. Look no further than Tiger Woods to see that secrets are a thing of the past.
Gone are the days of corporate executives or government officials stonewalling the Mike Wallaces of the world and hoping the story will go away. Anyone with access to a computer and inside information is now a potential whistleblower, and getting that information to the masses is easier then ever with social media tools and blogs.
Sometimes the leaks are inadvertent, such as when an otherwise loyal, productive employee is distracted or simply makes a mistake. Just look at Apple, a highly secretive company that found itself embroiled in the now infamous “Haus Staudt” incident after a trusted engineer messed up.
Some will argue that this new brand of vigilante whistle blowing is a good thing, making businesses more ethical and transparent (and afraid!) Companies must always be aware that whatever is known internally is subject to public dissection with the click of a button. Me, I am not so sure if full transparency benefits the greater good. Would it be right and ethical if Coca Cola’s much-ballyhooed secret formula were Tweeted to the masses, and Coke’s competition? Coke worked hard to perfect that formula, and it seems to me it is their right to keep it a secret.
If you’re a corporate decision-maker, you must ask yourself: Is there confidential information that is essential to keeping my business competitive and strong? The type of information that, if it fell into the hands of someone with a laptop, a blog, and an ax to grind, would send upper management running to Walgreens for a bulk-sized bottle of Tylenol? If so, what are you doing to protect that information?
In the end there probably is no foolproof way to secure all information at all times, but acknowledging the current state of the game and taking steps to minimize risk are key to avoiding a potentiality devastating crisis. RJ
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