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Australia Optus’ full-page newspaper apology — a lazy concept way past its use-by date

03:21  03 october  2022
03:21  03 october  2022 Source:   crikey.com.au

Optus customers slam telco for failing to protect data in major breach as hackers demand ransom

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More than a week after hackers compromised the personal data of millions of Australians, someone at Optus thought it would be a great idea to publish full-page newspaper apologies.

  Optus’ full-page newspaper apology — a lazy concept way past its use-by date © Provided by Crikey

But why? Who thinks a paid apology advertisement communicates anything worthwhile? Generally it suggests desperation and a lack of imagination rather than sincerity.

There are some very famous corporate apologies which won universal praise and will be continue to be cited in crisis study for years, such as Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle after two employees filmed themselves doing disgusting things to food; Starbucks boss Kevin Johnson when two Black men were arrested in one of his stores; AirAsia owner Tony Fernandes expressing genuine empathy after Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea.

Optus data breach: Millions of Australians may be able to claim compensation after cyber attack

  Optus data breach: Millions of Australians may be able to claim compensation after cyber attack Kylie Carson, a special counsel specialising in general compensation at Shine Lawyers, said if an Optus customer had a financial loss as a result of the data breach, they may be able to pursue a claim. © Provided by Daily Mail More than 11 million Australians have potentially had their personal addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, passport details and drivers licences stolen in the cyber security attack last week © Provided by Daily Mail Kylie Carson, a special counsel specialising in general compensation at Shine Lawyers, said if an Optus customer had a financial loss as a result of the data breach, they

  Optus’ full-page newspaper apology — a lazy concept way past its use-by date © Provided by Crikey

The Optus hacker is being treated as the real deal by the government. Its apology can’t be trusted

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But in each case it was the top executive speaking personally on camera in the heat of the crisis, not some carefully written and legally vetted words put together by communication professionals on the CEO’s behalf and published days later.

That certainly seems to be the case with Optus.

The idea of apologising via a paid advertisement is a lazy concept which has been around for a long time. It seems particularly fashionable in the banking industry. The CEO of NAB published a hand-signed letter in major newspapers promising to “make things right” after a server error left thousands of businesses unable to operate. Westpac took out full-page newspaper ads to apologise for unreported foreign funds transfers which may have helped facilitate child exploitation. And Deutsche Bank paid to apologise for past legal troubles

Optus data hacker scandal takes ridiculous turn as man sent customer's phone numbers and bills

  Optus data hacker scandal takes ridiculous turn as man sent customer's phone numbers and bills Samuel Leighton-Dore posted screenshots of a conversation he claims to have had with an Optus support worker - who appears to have accidentally sent him private information. 'Now Optus support leaking other people's phone numbers and bill amounts to me,' he posted to Twitter, alongside an image of the chat.

Of course, the bankers are not alone. Rupert Murdoch signed full-page apology ads after his company’s phone-hacking scandal, and Mark Zuckerberg — despite controlling one of the world’s most influential and persuasive social media platforms — chose a full-page letter published in newspapers to promise consumers the company would “do better for you” after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

Although such costly advertisements might attract momentary media attention, and maybe appease investors, there is little evidence they have any positive impact on a questionable reputation. Just look at the banks.

One notable exception was the cheeky ad placed by KFC in Britain when a logistics failure left hundreds of stores with no chickens. Its full-page apology ad, which featured an empty chicken bucket with the company’s logo rearranged as FCK, attracted attention around the world.

Optus Advanced Security Operation Centre information and video removed amid data hack

  Optus Advanced Security Operation Centre information and video removed amid data hack Optus has taken down any and all content about its $10million security centre, with videos about the cutting edge spot being wiped from its website amid its recent hacking crisis. Up to 10million Optus customers were warned they could be the victim of identity fraud after the telco giant's data systems were hacked, with 10,200 customers already seeing their records released on Monday.The data released included passport, drivers licence and Medicare numbers, as well as dates of birth and home addresses.

KFC later said: “The ad enabled us to say sorry with a big platform, in a way that felt human and bold” — which is more than can be said for the stolid apology letters from Optus or the bank CEOs.

Of course, not every CEO is a great communicator, but every CEO should be a leader. Effective crisis management is about leadership, and a paid apology advertisement is no substitute.

The decision by Zuckerberg to choose newspapers over his own social media mega-platform raises the question whether the rise of social media has had any impact on the apparent belief in the effectiveness of traditional newspaper advertising to get a corporate message across. Who is the audience? Presumably not the millions of people who have long ceased to read newspapers.

Yet the full-page intervention by Optus seems to suggest that a large-format print advertisement in a newspaper is still regarded — without much evidence — as a credible and trustworthy way of saying sorry by cutting through online clutter. Or it could simply be one of those “need to be seen to be doing something” knee-jerk responses which still find favour in some boardrooms. Or perhaps it’s just an old-fashioned idea whose time has run out.

Or maybe, as my friend and crisis management colleague Gerry McCusker previously told Crikey: “It’s better than doing nothing… but not by a massive amount.”

Did you see the Optus newspaper ad? If you did, do you think it worked? Let us know your thoughts by writing to letters@crikey.com.au. Please include your full name to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

The post Optus’ full-page newspaper apology — a lazy concept way past its use-by date appeared first on Crikey.

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