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.
If we haven’t yet seen a sufficiently nasty data breach to motivate cleanups, I don’t think we want to.