Imagine you’re the CEO of a big company that has just been very publicly hacked.
It’s pretty damaging - your computer systems are down, your staff are locked out of systems, your private data is in the hands of criminals who might or might not be looking forward to a new movie from Seth Rogan…
You decide to call in the experts. Not only do you call in the cops (your corporation is definitely the victim of a crime), but you’re also keen for a crack team of cybersecurity experts to come in, determine what might have been stolen, and how you might better protect yourself in future.
Chances are that you would also quite like those security experts to say that your company wasn’t to blame. You’d probably like them to say the attack was so advanced that there were no defences that any regular corporation would have had in place to protect against it.
In fact, you’d probably be keen for the experts (who you’re paying plenty of dollars to) to say that nothing like it has ever been seen before, and that no companies could have been fully prepared for such an attack.
Now, imagine you’re the boss of a security company that has been called by a big company that has just been hacked.
They’re waving lots of dollars at you, and your eyes are going kerr-ching!
You don’t want to upset your new customer, and you’ll probably be prepared to bend over backwards to keep them happy.
And if the CEO of the company that fell victim asked you to write a few words that can be shared with staff about the hack, you’re not going to want to rock the boat are you?
In entirely separate news, did you see the internal memo that Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton sent to staff, including some words from Kevin Mandia, head of security firm Mandiant?
Over the last week, some of you have asked about the strength of our information security systems and how this attack could have happened. There is much we cannot say about our security protocols for obvious reasons, but we wanted to share with you a note we received today from Kevin Mandia, the founder of the expert cybersecurity firm that is investigating the cyber-attack on us. The investigation is ongoing, but Mr. Mandia’s note is helpful in understanding the nature of what we are dealing with. Full text below.
We also want to thank you once again for your resilience and resourcefulness in carrying out our critical day-to-day activities under incredibly stressful circumstances. As a result of your efforts, we have made great progress moving our business forward, and we will continue to do so.
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As our team continues to aid Sony Pictures’ response to the recent cyber-attack against your employees and operations, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some initial thoughts on the situation.
This attack is unprecedented in nature. The malware was undetectable by industry standard antivirus software and was damaging and unique enough to cause the FBI to release a flash alert to warn other organizations of this critical threat.
In fact, the scope of this attack differs from any we have responded to in the past, as its purpose was to both destroy property and release confidential information to the public. The bottom line is that this was an unparalleled and well planned crime, carried out by an organized group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared.
We are aggressively responding to this incident and we will continue to coordinate closely with your staff as new facts emerge from our investigation.
“Unprecedented”? “Undetectable”? “Unique”? “Unparalleled”? “Differs from any we have responded to in the past”?
In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that wouldn’t he?