Sony & the Intangible Costs of a Data Breach

Image via Shutterstock.com

Image via Shutterstock.com

The recent breach of Sony’s email servers has resulted in countless private conversations being exposed to the media, stakeholders, and those orbiting the secretive world of Hollywood. The breach stands in stark contrast to popular media stories on consumer credit cards and stands as a testament to the less tangible costs of a data breach.

Emails are leaked and relationships are soured
The breach of thousands of email records is difficult to trace. But while Sony scrambles to implement stopgap protocols, such as shutting down email servers entirely, employees and stakeholders are left in the dark. With reduced access to efficient communication, the company is actually making it harder for employees to be proactive about outreach and mending damaged relationships.

The press is difficult to muzzle
Sony has issued stern warnings to major media outlets covering the breach, telling them not to leak specific content or risk legal action. While this strategy seems plausible from within company walls, the press has not been easily dissuaded. As new information leaks, it is quickly published on the web and in social media channels where everyday users become the vector for sharing information. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it cannot be closed.

A brand is hard (and expensive) to fix
Not only will Sony spend millions on security investigations around the breach, it will also endure ongoing ridicule and shame in the close-knit Hollywood business community. While calculating those costs is impossible, it’s clear that the damage will be hard to contain. Lost opportunities, fleeing talent, and a damaged public brand are all part of this intangible cost.

Companies must take note: Relationships between brands and key customers can be difficult, if not impossible, to mend. If data security is not made an ongoing priority, companies leave themselves susceptible to the same legal, financial, and cultural crises Sony is facing today.

Learn more about the true costs of a data breach in our latest white paper.

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