As a technology company executive, one of the biggest battles you face is challenging customer scepticism. With the exception of early adopters, most customers do not willingly embrace new technology.
Even if the new technology, such as cryptocurrency or autonomous vehicles, might point to a more efficient way of doing things, members of the public often remain inherently sceptical.
Most people are worried about new technology going wrong. In fact, tech scandals have wreaked havoc on the industry’s reputation over recent years. This is something that it might be difficult to recover from, even with the support of the best personal reputation management companies.
In this article, we review some of the biggest scandals in the technology sector from the last 12 months.
1) Trolls invade Zoom
Back when global lockdowns were new and video conferences were a novelty, virtual-meeting software Zoom was hit by a security crisis, with the platform being criticised for the ease by which trolls could gatecrash business meetings, family gatherings, and even classroom sessions.
In fact, the situation got so bad that in April, New York City classrooms banned the use of Zoom altogether. There were some horrible examples of so-called ‘Zoombombers’ invading classroom sessions with threats, hate speech, and even pornography.
The company responded quickly with Zoom launching new security features, encryption, and increasing the default security sessions. The business also promised a complete security overhaul in November last year.
2) Collapse of Wirecard
Nothing is more frightening to members of the public than the risk of losing money; even worse if it might be losing all of their savings. This fear couldn’t have been helped by the collapse of Wirecard in June last year.
The company, one of Europe’s most lauded technology businesses, provided payment processing services, including virtual cards. The only problem is that when regulators and banks asked the company to confirm the existence of $2.3 billion purportedly held in offshore trustee accounts, the company could not. The money had literally gone missing.
This rapidly led to the collapse of the company and recriminations, with senior executives being accused of being involved in an extended accounting cover-up. Investigations are still underway.
3) Hacking of prominent Twitter accounts
If you logged onto Twitter on Wednesday 15 July and visited Bill Gates, Joe Biden, or Elon Musk’s profiles, you would have been greeted with a message saying that they were going to double any bitcoin sent to an account in the next 30 minutes.
Incredible generous? The only problem was that the posts were completely fake. The Twitter accounts of some of the world’s most prominent people had been hacked and hijacked. The hack was so shocking that it led to Twitter’s share price collapsing 3% at the end of the day.
The culprit was a 17-year-old who had managed to convince an employee at Twitter’s information technology department to give him access. The huge breach led to the hacker being handed down a three-year prison sentence in Florida.
4) Sina Weibo data leak
Many people don’t give a second thought to where their data ends up after they sign up for a new service. But if there’s anything that should have given us pause for thought over the last few years it’s the large number of massive data leaks. It has impacted companies of all sizes across all different sectors.
One of the biggest from the last year or so was the leaking of personal information from Chinese social network Sina Weibo. In March 2020, news broke that the personal details of in excess of a huge 500 million people was being touted for sale on the dark web.
The price? Just $250. Fortunately, it was reported that the data dump did not contain passwords of payment information, but it still included the real names, usernames, and phone numbers of millions of people.
5) $1.4 billion lost to crypto criminals in five months
There have been countless unfortunate cryptocurrency scandals over the last few years, so it seemed unfair to pick just one. How do you capture the scale of the problem?
A good place to start is the research conducted by blockchain analytics company CipherTrace. The consultancy found that crypto-thieves had amassed nearly $1.4 billion in cryptocurrency through the first five months of 2020. A huge haul.
This was followed through the rest of the year with a number of specific scandals that increased the number to the multi-billion mark for 2020 as a whole. For example, in October, $24 million was stolen from decentralized finance service Harvest Finance. There are countless others.
Should scandals taint a whole industry? Definitely not, but it’s difficult to convince the public to try new tech when they read so many stories about bad things going wrong. But perhaps that’s the price of innovation.