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2011 Security Predications #4: WikiLeaks is the New Model of Security

January 7, 2011

Prediction #4: WikiLeaks is the New Model of “Security Through Fear and Shame”

Regardless of where you might stand on the WikiLeaks issue, the simple fact is that the WikiLeaks got a large, government agency to adopt and enforce a lot of security policies to address gaps in their security program, and did it in extremely short order.  Historically, organizations have ignored such esoteric and abstract concepts as “reputational damage”, often figuring that if they do experience a data breach (even one that leaks unflattering information about their business processes), they could simply assign a good PR team for triage, and eventually, it would all go away.

WikiLeaks makes it pretty clear that this is not an option anymore: the public cost in terms of loss of trust is simply too high to ignore the flow of sensitive information through the enterprise.
There are two specific predictions tied to this one, as well:

  • First, there will be more large WikiLeaks-type disclosures, but I think that they’ll more likely be in the commercial realm rather than the political one.  I also think that organizations other than WikiLeaks will take a page from Julian Assange’s book, and start pushing (or depending on your perspective, breaking) the limits of free speech in the United States.
  • Second, the WikiLeaks incident is now the poster child of the concept of “reputational damage” that that security analysts have been talking about for so many years.  Finally, with a clear understanding of the potential of this term, organizations will be shoring-up the confidentiality of their data to ensure that they don’t go through the same cycle of fear and shame.
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