Stuart Madnick, MIT Sloan Prof. of Information Technology
From The Wall Street Journal
As technical defenses against cyberattacks have improved, attackers have adapted by zeroing in on the weakest link: people. And too many companies are making it easy for the attackers to succeed.
An analogy that I often use is this: You can get a stronger lock for your door, but if you are still leaving the key under your mat, are you really any more secure?
It isn’t as if people aren’t aware of the weapons hackers are using. For instance, most people have heard of, and probably experienced, phishing—emails or messages asking you to take some action. (“We are your IT dept. and want to help you protect your computer. Click on this link for more information.”) Although crude, these tactics still achieve a 1% to 3% success rate.
Then there are the more deadly, personalized “spearphish” attacks. One example is an email, apparently sent from a CEO to the CFO, that starts by mentioning things they discussed at dinner last week and requests that money be transferred immediately for a new high-priority project. These attacks are increasingly popular because they have a high success rate.
The common element of all these kinds of attacks: They rely on people falling for them. Read More »
It’s been a rough year for General Motors. The company has recalled more than 28 million vehicles worldwide and is liable for billions of dollars in automotive repairs and victim compensation. It suffered an 85% drop in its second-quarter earnings and faces multiple state investigations, not to mention class-action lawsuits related to safety issues. Can GM recover from this massive crisis?
It can make a comeback, but the recovery hinges on changing the organization’s culture. For years, GM focused on cost-effectiveness and the bottom line, creating what the new CEO Mary Barra calls “a pattern of incompetence and neglect.” To address the current crisis, she of course needs to fix the safety problems, but she also needs to create a new company culture. Safety must become the priority over cost savings in order to regain consumer and market trust, and GM’s focus needs to be on the customer.
So far, Barra, who inherited the crisis when she was promoted to CEO this past January, is moving in the right direction. By firing 15 employees who were involved in the lack of communication about safety issues, she sent a powerful message both within and outside of the company about the company’s changing priorities.
While “teamwork” may sound like the newest business buzz word, it’s actually been around for quite a while. What started as a way to increase productivity in a company has evolved to an actual science today with measurable results.
There are many reasons for this, but the clearest involves the need for collaboration. As was noted in a recent Fortune article, even geniuses like Thomas Edison were never “lone inventors.”
Business operates in ever evolving collaborative environments due to integrated factors, such as technology, globalization of markets and flatter organizational structures. Companies that effectively implement teams have found tremendous rewards in the form of innovative ideas, higher productivity, increased efficiency, and communicative cultures. As MIT Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland says in his recent HBR article, The New Science of Building Great Teams, this enables “energy, creativity, and shared commitment.” Read More »