Blameshifting is not a good defense strategy

Today, in my newsfeed, two stories about breaches caught my attention.

In this first story, a class-action lawsuit is filed against Waste Management for failing to protect PII in the trash.

In the second story, a South Africa port operator declares force majeure as a result of a security breach, in essence declaring that nothing could have been done to prevent the breach.

In both of these situations, the victim organizations attempt to shift the blame for the failure to protect sensitive information on others. Those of us in the profession have seen victim companies do this in the past, and it generally does not work out well.

Back to the Waste Management story. Here, I argue that when an organization places something in dumpsters, they should take steps to ensure that no recoverable information is discarded. Unless the business arrangement between companies and Waste Management is more akin to secure document shredding by companies like Shred-It, I assert that the garbage company has no obligation to protect anything of value placed in the trash.

On to the South Africa port operator. Declaring force majeure as a result of a security breach is an interesting tactic. In my opinion (note that I am not a lawyer and have had no formal law education), this strategy will backfire. There are numerous examples of organizations that successfully defend themselves against attacks like this. Granted, these attacks are a global plague, and defense – while challenging – is absolutely possible.

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