Hillary Clinton Email: What This Epic IT Fail Teaches Us

The Hillary Clinton email story is an epic, ongoing “I told you so!” for every I.T. department or I.T. service that has said you should be changing your company passwords every three months. You wanted to pour coffee in his lap because you knew it was going to be a massive pain in the butt. You were going to lose control of an entire staff meeting every quarter when it turned into a gripe-fest about trying to come up with new passwords.

But there was a reason you hired them. They were the experts. They were spending all their time and all their brainpower on finding ways to make your network run better and protect your data. They knew it needed to be done so that you could sleep at night knowing your vital business information and processes were protected.

Hillary Rodham Clinton should have

access to the best I.T. people in the world. She works for the organization who invented the Internet. Under a president who is considered by some to be the first to understand cybersecurity. He’s also the first president to acknowledge the existence of Area 51, but I don’t watch enough X-Files reruns to think there’s any correlation.

You know that Hillary clearly knew the rules for handling emails. There were clear processes in place when sheflickr-primeministergr-4153158148took the job as Secretary of State. And when she took the job before that as a U.S. Senator. And when she moved into the White House as First Lady. Or when she was the First Lady of the state of Arkansas. So it’s not like this is her first trip to the government security rodeo. Maybe after 37 years of scrutiny and
regulation, she’s just tired of it.

I get it. We all struggle with doing something that seems vague or tedious to prevent something abstractly bad from happening. Because as long as you’re doing it, nothing goes wrong and so it seems like you’re wasting all that time and effort. You don’t get up and go for a walk because you’re not in the coronary trenches. You can’t see those high density lipoproteins attaching themselves to your artery wall. Out of sight, out of mind.

But Hillary isn’t the one sitting in a dark cavern full of humming servers, fending off yet another attack from some nasty group of North Korean government hackers. To her, everything is fine. What’s the big deal? Can’t a woman just send a few emails about her daughter’s wedding for heaven sake without it causing some national politicaluproar?

NO! You can’t, Hillary. Sorry, but mixing personal and business is rarely a good idea. There are certain things you don’t do on company time, like download movies or buy shoes or talk about national security on the same system you use to order yoga pants from Amazon!

She is the BYOT (bring your own technology) movement gone wild. She didn’t just bring her own technology, she brought it (from Best Buy? Government surplus? Servers R Us?) and then had it installed in her HOUSE!

The Hillary Clinton email story is the nightmare that every employer should worry about. You work with a very skilled I.T. provider to solve your business problems with technology. They put together a fantastic, clever, integrated and especially secure system and process for company email, handing business data and tracking sales and finances. You invest a good chunk of money to make sure your proprietary data and the keys to the business kingdom is secure.

And then some doofus in accounting decides it’s a pain in the neck to take two extra seconds to log in through the company portal and just copies everything to a thumb drive. Which they lose two months later. But they don’t tell you (only 19% of data breaches or losses are self-reported by the responsible employee*).

flickr-americagov-3810927191Okay, your employees aren’t doofuses. And Hillary Clinton is no dummy. In fact, she’s a very skilled, strategic thinker who has anincredibly complex job. She’s very good at a lot of things. And this is the root of the problem. This is the mistake that she made, that your employees make, and that you might even make. Just because you’re a critical thinker and you’re very good at what you do does not mean you’re going to be good at I.T.

You can’t be good at everything. I.T. is an incredibly complexdiscipline. It’s a full-time job for millions of people because it’s a huge field of knowledge that is constantly changing and expanding. There are wholesale rule changes about every three months and a major game changer every six months. Mobile. Cloud. Internet of things. These have all become massively important in the last year or two.

Hillary had the information and the resources right at hand and she ignored them because her ego said she knewwhat she was doing. You know that multiple people told her it wasn’t a good idea. Probably some poor I.T. schmuck who insisted she not do it and is now cleaning toilets in Leavenworth. She needed to pay attention to those whose primary function in life is to protect vital data. Just another case of a good critical thinker letting their ego override I.T.’s best practices.

If you don’t want to find yourself in the national spotlight – or more realistically, you don’t want to lose your business to hackers or data loss – hire the best, smartest, and most forward thinking I.T. managed services firmyou can afford. Then listen to them – not your ego – and DO WHAT THEY SAY.

  • The Human Factor in Data Protection, Independently conducted by the Ponemon Institute in January 2012, sponsored by Trend Micro.

Photos from Flickr Creative Commons Courtesy of (top to bottom):