How NOT to manage a security breach crisis

adobe_logo1We’re often given the opportunity to learn about crisis management through the highly visible fallout from the experiences of others. Important lessons can be learned when looking at how a company successfully, or unsuccessfully, responds to a hard-hitting crisis. Everyone makes mistakes and learning from others makes us better prepared to manage a similar scenario ourselves.

Adobe hack

Adobe’s database of over 150 million users was hacked in October 2013, resulting in email addresses, passwords and credit card information being stolen. The identity thieves know which programs specific users have, making it even easier to engage in phishing to get people to download malware disguised as updates. The situation illustrates the growing problem with identity theft and how ordinary people are often the real targets of hackers who target big companies. What is more shocking is the way Adobe reacted.

How did they react?

Adobe first reported the data breach of approximately 3 million customers however this number was then raised to 38 million. The situation then took a turn for the worse when an outside company found the data of 152 million Adobe customers on a site frequented by cyber-criminals.

While Abobe may have needed privacy and secrecy with a breach of this size, responses through snail mail and email were slow. Emails sent to customers warned that data might, or might not, have been compromised and many customers received no communication at all. Even now, three months later, there is no notice of the incident on any of Adobe’s login pages.

Shocking statements emerged such as “Much of what we’re learning about the breach has come from independent researchers not affiliated with Adobe.”

It’s possible that Adobe has limited knowledge about what happened, but the silence after this attack was somewhat shocking to many users and should have been handled with more care by Adobe.

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