Read more about the Sony incident
Most Project Managers would have read the story thinking it has no relevance to them. After all they aren’t movie stars or executives in the movie industry and North Korea probably has no interest in them.
All Project Managers have sensitive information on their company computers. This includes emails, correspondence, project cost reports, possibly access to employee levels of pay, probably their own payslip, etc. While North Korea is probably not interested in any of this data the data could be embarrassing if it fell into the wrong hands.
Would you want your client to find out you were making a big profit on their project – it could certainly jeopardise negotiations with them regarding a claim or for further work?
What if subcontractors found out how much profit your project was making? They may expect you to be more lenient in your financial dealings with them.
Wouldn’t the unions love to know who was being paid what? It could make for interesting wage negotiations in future.
What if confidential employee information was leaked to others? It could expose you and the company to a lawsuit.
There are many ways people can see information on your computer.
1. Some people leave their computer on in their office even when they aren’t there. Anyone can enter their office and access the content on their computers. Sometimes PM’s even leave sensitive documents open on their computer screens when they aren’t there. These could be seen by accident by someone who wasn’t intentionally spying.
2. Computers are left unattended in offices or cars where they can be stolen.
3. Your computer could be hacked which may be made easier by opening emails containing malicious software used by hackers.
So who would want this information?
1. Unfortunately most companies have unhappy employees or ex-employees who bare a grudge against the company. Some may go to extraordinary lengths to embarrass the company.
2. Industrial espionage can be serious business in some countries where companies via to outcompete their competitors and could go to any lengths to give competitors a bad reputation.
3. Criminals may use the information to extort ransom money from companies or individuals so that confidential information isn’t leaked.
ONE MORE LESSON
What’s also come out of these leaks are emails sent by senior executives which contain disparaging and embarrassing comments about actors, producers and others. We are probably all guilty of saying things in emails which we shouldn’t. To say nothing of those joke emails which are circulated which could be politically incorrect, contain racial slurs or be seen to be sexist.
It should be remembered that you have no control over what the person receiving your email does with it. Even if they have no malicious intent and remain your friend forever, they could forward it onto others who may not hold you in such high regard. Sometimes these emails are even forwarded by accident. Their computer could even be hacked.
Secondly remember that emails never go away. Even when deleted, it’s possible with the right soft-ware to recover them again.