I have met David Beckham. He struck me as a particularly charming gentleman. Diffident, almost shy, conscious that he was the centre of attention, his conduct was impeccable.
He was a gentleman with a god given talent to play football. He did not profess to be a business consultant, an accountant, an entrepreneur, a George Soros or a titan of industry. He was a brilliant footballer, thrown into the limelight.
Recognising his industrial limitations he employed a manager and PR Chief, Simon Oliveira, and no doubt through him a team of advisors. David Beckham has always strived to be “private” about his personal life and Oliveira has been broadly successful in protecting him.
Yet they were both caught out by that modern day cyber-crime “hacking”. It seems that some 18.6 million emails and documents have been hacked from the servers of Doyen Global, the company that PR Chief Oliveira runs. The documents were hacked and released by the Football Leaks “whistleblowing” website. Given the volume, 18.6million, it’s a £1 to a penny that the list of those were have been compromised is a long one and over the coming weeks it will be a drip feed to the media.
This sad tale has lessons for all of us. You can protect yourself but if your supply chain remains unprotected, then you are just as vulnerable. You do not have to be a celebrity. You can be a medium sized PR firm with a few choice clients, a doctors or a dentists’ surgery, even a veterinary surgeon. Any small business or organisation that sends and receives emails, keeps personal and personnel records is just as vulnerable as high-profile targets like Talk Talk, Tesco Bank, or Google.
I bet David Beckham never asked his PR advisors, management, what practical steps they had taken to protect his interests against cyber attack, to ensure his privacy and confidentiality. The question would never have crossed his mind and it obviously never crossed Simon Oliveira’s.
It will now but the horse has bolted and it is too late. Protection is available. Advice is available and it is not expensive to obtain. Seek it out! Is your stable door securely locked?
Senior Advisor to Crises Control