The resignation of Senator Al Franken is only the latest instance in a chain of fallout from claims of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct that has been swiftly growing ever since claims of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct surfaced on Oct. 5.
Many of the initial accusations originally focused on Hollywood and the greater media world, but now more than 100 high-profile men across industries and across America have faced claims ranging from sexual harassment to rape. The list of powerful individuals accused reads like a Who’s Who of fame and power. Atlantic Magazine described it as an ‘epidemic,’ and one that continues to spread throughout the business world.
Thus far, careers have been ended, resignations tendered, and accusations made through media exposure. But according to a report on NPR (who itself made headlines after NPR Board Chairman Roger LaMay and popular show host Garrison Keillor stepped down after harassment accusations) sexual harassment cases are very often dismissed by judges. The standard for harassment under the law is very high—only an estimated 3% to 6% of cases make it to trial.
Compare this to the survey data indicating a quarter to half of women stating they have experienced sexual harassment at work. With today’s revelations, no doubt having the accused harasser removed from a position of power is a relief to victims. But any victim seeking vindication from court will have to have proof of the behavior.
Legally speaking, there are two types of sexual harassment: sexual harassment categorized in a hostile work environment and ‘quid pro quo’ sexual harassment. Hostile work environment can be tough to win because a lot of verbal behavior simply doesn’t meet the legal standard: the U.S. Supreme Court famously stated that hostile workplace laws are not a “general civility code for the American workplace.” Quid pro quo means “this for that,” and that type of harassment means a plaintiff must prove that a job, promotion, or benefits were offered based on sexual advances being accepted.
There’s that word again: proof.
But where better to find proof—and potentially dirt on employers—than in the HR files? Not to mention a load of other sensitive information.
How sensitive? Just ask Sony Picture Studios.
Back in 2014 a hacker group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” leaked personal employee information, emails between employees, salary data—including for executives—even unreleased films.
Speaking of unreleased entertainment: Remember the Netflix cybershakedown after ‘thedarkoverlord’ hackers grabbed copies of the unaired “Orange is the New Black” season? Netflix refused to pay the ransom, and, sure enough: the show was released on thepiratebay.org.
But back to sensitive personnel information and the HR Department. Think it won’t happen to you?
It happened to the US OFFICE of Personnel Management (OPM)—which functions basically as the HR department for the federal government. One of their security engineers discovered something odd: outbound traffic pinging to an external domain—one that was not owned by the agency.
It was a malware attack—one that gave the attackers access to the OPM servers. Worse: intelligence suggested that the access occurred months before being discovered. Even worse: Ultimately the sensitive personal information of approximately 25 million government employees was compromised.
And the intelligence value of the theft? It “cannot be overstated, nor will it ever be fully known,” said a report by the house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
There’s more. Talent agencies UTA, ICM, and WME were all targeted by hackers with theft of data and extortion. Said USC cybercrime expert Michael Orosz: “A hacker breaks in… steals data and then holds the company over the barrel…. It’s easy to do.” This is becoming more and more common because it’s easy to do. It’s basically low-hanging fruit.”
And the recommendations of law enforcement, including the FBI, according to industry sources? Pay the ransom. It is likely cheaper to pay than the cost of the loss—or of the cost to investigate.
Think about what’s in your personnel files. Now imagine them being revealed in their entirety to anyone who cares to look—unless you pay a ransom.
Government and entertainment figures may grab the headlines, but if it’s your business being hacked, that’s going to grab your attention. Any company who has data stored needs top quality protection.
The challenge is that most of the time in business, the same data safely stored also needs to be accessed in order to run your business.
That’s where 5i Solutions can help.
5i Solutions takes your security seriously. Our data hosting and super-secure Cloud Vault offers encryption, network security, and key management. Custom-built identity verification and access control. Threat management, penetration testing, monitoring, logging, and on-demand reports to ensure the continued integrity of your data.
5i can customize a solution where your vital data is secure and available 24/7 from anywhere in the world—but available only to those authorized to have access to it.
Today’s encryption systems are strong, and can protect your vital data from virtually any attack. And 5i Solutions can build a custom solution for you for less than you might think. So encrypt your data today—don’t wait for someone to get hold of your system and hold it for ransom with their own encryption.
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