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Uber Hiring Cyber Expert to Examine its Data Privacy

Uber Hiring Cyber Expert to Examine its Data Privacy

After an embarrassing scandal, Uber hired a data privacy expert to review its policies. Learn what you need to know about the cost of poor data security.

Monday, December 29, 2014/Categories: cyber-liability

After a scandalous report that an Uber manager at the company's NYC office accessed a reporter's travel data without permission, the hail-a-ride start-up has hired a cyber liability expert to review its policies and recommend changes to prevent future privacy violations.

Advisen reports the company has hired Harriet Pearson, a former chief privacy officer at IBM and currently an attorney at Hogan Lovells. Pearson is a big name in corporate data security counseling and co-chairs the Cybersecurity Law Institute at Georgetown University. Needless to say, her services won't come cheap.

The story highlights that data security is really about public trust. Companies that don't respect user privacy can take a tremendous hit to their reputation, which leaves them scrambling to do whatever they can to minimize the damage.

As an information technology professional, your first instinct may be to look at this situation from a technical angle, but remember that your clients see data security differently – they care about how it affects their reputation and bottom line. Let's take closer look at how Uber is managing this crisis.

Understanding Cyber Liability and Public Relations

Many people overlook the effect a data security issue has on a business's marketability. When the initial news broke that Uber may be tracking users' private data without authorization, Uber leadership had to respond to the crisis immediately.

"Crisis management" usually involves spending a lot of money. Uber hired a top attorney to overhaul its security. Though the company hasn't been sued, it will have a sizable legal bill. And that doesn't include the other ways it's "paying" for this scandal.

Uber is responding to…

  • Media inquiries.
  • Letters from legislators.
  • Questions from concerned users.

This scandal couldn't have come at a worse time – Uber is already fighting with regulators and cab companies that want it to follow the same laws as taxis. The company is trying its best to appease lawmakers and avoid government scrutiny.

(For another recent example of a data security issue hindering a business, see our article, "This Is What We Mean By Reputational Damage," about a data breach that embarrassed companies trying to offer an alternative to Apple Pay.)

How IT Professionals Can Leverage Data Security into More Sales

Our article, "3 IT Sales Tips to Help You Avoid Becoming a Free Consultant," points out that IT sales depend on you understanding what's at stake for your clients.

In a client's eyes, data security is always a question of costs and benefits. While your smaller clients might not be able to hire a top corporate lawyer like Uber did, data breaches and privacy issues come with extensive legal and crisis management costs – even when there are no lawsuits.

What does this mean for IT consultants? As clients have more concerns about the costs of data breaches and privacy violations, IT consultants should actively...

  • Position themselves as experts in data security.
  • Minimize the cost of a data breach or cyber security issue.
  • Educate clients about what's at risk.

If you're able to speak your clients' language about minimizing the costs of a breach, you'll be better positioned to close a sale.

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