5 hard-learned lessons business should take from the WikiLeaks scandal

This article was written by Douglas Idugboe and originally published on Smedio.

Technology is meant to better human lives. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way; and a perfect case in point is the recent WikiLeaks scandal. I will refrain from debating the legalities and moralities of WikiLeaks as that’s a sensitive issue. I strongly believe that the damage has been done and now it’s crucial to learn some important lessons from this scam.

While some people have found the whole WikiLeaks affair as an entertaining episode filled with conspiracy, drama and sex, I have been following it from a more rationale perspective. Julian Assange has been hailed as a hero by some quarters and there’s no shortage of his critics and enemies either. Whether intentional or not, I feel that Mr. Assange has left the following five important business lessons for us.

1. Be prepared!

WikiLeaks has blown away the concept of “foolproof security”. As a business, you are better off spending a few extra bucks pro-actively preparing for a possible data than reacting when the damage has already been done. Whether it’s your email accounts, intranet or your social media profiles, make sure to choose strong passwords. Further, determine what data is sensitive for your organization, where to store it and how to secure it?

There are no truly secure systems. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

2. Cloud

Cloud Computing has been amongst the most popular technology terms for businesses during the last couple of years. Unfortunate as it is, a large number of businesses do not fully understand the implications and risks associated with the cloud computing paradigm. They simply join the cloud bandwagon because their competitors are doing so and it’s tech-savvy to do so. IMO, ignorance in the cloud is a perfect recipe for disaster. Don’t believe me? Ask Assange and company!

Never place any sensitive data on the cloud, unless you are sure about why it’s going there and how it’s going to be protected.

3. Privacy & Transparency

It’s a fine line between privacy and transparency, especially for businesses. If you divulge too little detail, it’s of no use and if you reveal too much, your business’ privacy is at stake. While the typical human mindset is to hide everything, that’s far from the optimal approach. If you try to hold too many secrets, a WikiLeaks disaster is waiting to happen for your business.

Never tell anyone that they don’t need to know. However, don’t make it a habit to keep things secret!

4. Media

We live in the world of Internet and Web 2.0 where information is transmitted at speeds beyond our imagination. Whether it’s sensitive data, criticism or a positive feedback, everything travels faster than the velocity of light. Work towards keeping your customers happy and feel the positive vibes flow across social media circles and the internet. Annoy your customers and risk the public wrath of the internet population.

The choice is yours. After all, it’s your business.

5. Anonymity

Mr. Assange has well and truly revived the golden era of anonymity with his world famous deeds. I’ve always believed that anonymity can fetch better publicity than celebrities and big names. Mr. Assange, thank you for proving me right. Anonymous information is far more intruding for readers as there’s a mystery aspect associated with it. I leave it up to your imagination on how you integrate that cue to your marketing tactics.

Anonymity doesn’t always lack credibility

Can you think of any other business lessons from the WikiLeaks scam episode? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.