Public Perception and Security Risks

You probably heard about the Gawker hack by now. I think I was less surprised that the hack happened as opposed to the reason why. According to an article at, Gawker was targeted because of the way the media site presents itself to readers:

An unknown and unverified source said in a note to Mediaite that the hack was motivated by Gawker’s haughty behavior.

‘We went after Gawker because of their outright arrogance. It took us a few hours to find a way to dump all their source code and a bit longer to find a way into their database.’

If you are unfamiliar with Gawker, the site does have an arrogant edge to it, but obviously, that doesn’t give anyone license to hack into it.  

The incident does raise some concern though. There are plenty of sites and companies that incite strong feelings. The comments sections often do nothing more than dump fuel on already high emotions. To me, it then begs the question: Are you at a bigger security risk because of negative public opinion? 

The folks at Cisco Security Blog had similar thoughts and suggested enterprises ask themselves the following questions, particularly if they or their sites can be seen as controversial:

  • How much value do I assign to users’ goodwill toward my site?
  • How much value do I assign to my ability to transact business through my site?
  • Will a decline in either users’ goodwill or my ability to transact business through my site affect the other?

The blog goes on to provide good advice on how to prevent being in the same situation as Gawker and how consumers can protect their own identity. The bottom line, according to the blog:

If users become offended by poor security practices, they could take their page views elsewhere. Any site that needs to protect advertising revenue and user loyalty should consider developing a culture of respect for users.


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