Russell Davies: Why Sony's data breach serves as a warning to all of us

By Russell Davies, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 26 May 2011 12:01AM

Warning - this is probably going to be boring. I even considered abandoning the topic - data, data loss and data policy - and doing one of my now traditional post-Eurovision, Social Media Second Screen round-ups. But, no, we have to get through this - it'll be good for us all. The boringness is a fundamental part of the problem.

Russell Davies: Why Sony's data breach serves as a warning to all of us

We've all heard about Sony's woes with data. Various of its gaming networks were hacked or otherwise compromised and all sorts of passwords, credit-card details and personal information may have leaked into entirely the wrong hands. And the worse thing about the whole episode - no-one seems particularly surprised.

This is a massive corporation, with a long history of high-quality products and an exemplary reputation. OK - it's not had such a great time recently, but no-one thinks of it as a lackadaisical slacker who leaves passwords on Post-it notes and forgets to lock the door to the server room. But when we hear that it's been hacked, we mostly just shrug and tut and move on.

I guess we're used to hearing about this stuff - government departments losing disks, major corporations selling off their computers with none of the files deleted - and it's making us complacent. But this complacency comes at exactly the time we should be getting more careful and concerned, at the time when more and more of what matters to us is migrating to "the cloud".

It's not going to be long before our books, our music, our pictures, our movies, our work, our money, our banking and our correspondence are all floating above our heads, drawn down to our devices whenever we need them. Metaphorically, at least.

In reality, they're all going to be distributed across various enormous, anonymous server farms positioned so as to maximise access to cheap energy. But the effect will be the same - your stuff will no longer be on your machines, in your home, under your control; it'll just be out there, accessible whenever you need it but equally accessible to anyone with your passwords and your ID.

Now, this isn't a sudden state change - we've all got lots of stuff in the cloud already - but though it's a gradual transition, it's still an important one. And it's one that we - as people who manage reputations for large corporations - should worry about.

There's suddenly another area where trust in a brand is vital, where we need to explain complex things without being boring or scary and where corporate reputations can be in tatters overnight. Core elements of the way our clients do business are disappearing into the ether - solidity, imagery and physicality are disappearing. This is not the dull domain of IT. This is something we should start to understand.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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