The Exxon Valdez of cyberspace

IN 1989 the thin-hulled Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, pouring a quarter of a million barrels of oil into the surrounding waters. At the time, it was America’s worst offshore spill, and a huge blow to the reputation of the ship’s owner, Exxon. The firm paid $3bn to clean up the area and settle legal claims, and to improve safety the American government ordered the phasing out of single-hull ships such as Exxon Valdez. All vessels used worldwide by Exxon’s corporate descendant, ExxonMobil, are now double-hulled. But that is not all. The disaster gave rise to a cultlike culture of discipline within ExxonMobil that helped turn it into the profitmaking beast it is today.

Three decades later, as a result of a relentless surge in cybercrime, digital firms are floundering towards their own Exxon Valdez moment. The latest is Capital One, a big American bank with a market capitalisation of $42bn, which on July 29th revealed that a hacker had stolen personal and financial details of 106m credit-card customers and applicants. Prosecutors allege that over four months Paige Thompson, a 33-year-old software developer, infiltrated a Capital One server hosted on Amazon’s cloud-computing platform through a misconfigured firewall. Bizarrely,...



via Business Feeds

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