In our increasingly connected world, everything occurs in an echo chamber. Once, quelling a customer issue may have been a simple matter of reimbursement and a promise never to let the problem happen again. Now, with a diverse set of social media platforms and connection options, what was once a matter between company and unhappy customer can quickly escalate into a full-fledged public relations nightmare. 

But, reputational damage becomes even more pointed when untrained or unscrupulous employees leak sensitive customer information. While strategies to mitigate issues on social media have become common place in recent years, guidelines for recovering reputation from a private data breach are scant. This hammers home the essential need for companies to follow regulations surrounding private information. But sometimes even local regulations aren’t stringent enough.

“We try to comply with the US laws that are most restrictive.  But, that is not the case anymore. Korea and other countries have laws that are more restrictive… Our ultimate goal is to ID all the regulations that affect our products and services, and to internalize them into our processes,” said Paul Connelly, vice president and chief information officer, Hospital Corporation, speaking from the 2014 Global Ethics Summit on Mar 22.

Especially in the health industry, where private information abounds, ensuring that information is safe and secure, and employees are properly trained can protect the reputation of a company. Much of that comes down to training, Connelly said.

“We finally had the most effect when we can connect security to an individual’s job. Explain to a nurse how, if you are not using a strong password, someone can do something malicious on our network.”

But healthcare is not the only industry susceptible to data theft, said Kellie Watts vice president, counsel and corporate ethics officer, for Alliance Data speaking from the same event.

Watts asked the crowd “Once you have a data breach or any kind of incident, your reputation is on the line… What kind of due diligence do you do on your vendors?”  Watts then reminded the crowd that the proliferation of connected devices means even more avenues to worry about. “With the IoT (internet of things), there is a vast array of information flowing out there.”

Reputational management in the face of internet diversification is a hot button issue, and it will be further discussed at the 14th annual SuperConference, which will take place May 12-14 in Chicago. The event will feature a number of sessions that will help those in the legal industry evaluate the risk of private data and remain stalwart in the face of these reputational challenges.


For more on private data and reputation check out these stories:                        

Apple’s new privacy counsel could mean future health program

International list of ethical companies released by the Ethisphere Institute

Cyber breach insurance: What, me worry?