OPSEC and embarrassment

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OPSEC and embarrassment

OPSEC can protect against a wide variety of problems. In general we think of economic losses or of people being placed in physical danger because information has been discovered. But it can also save from embarrassment. This was brought to mind recently when we read an announcement from Nokia that they had dropped plans to develop mobile phones with fuel cells.

For those in the business, this was no surprise. Nokia, which once was a great technological innovator – the 6150, 6160, and 6190, followed by the 6360 and 6310i were among the best terminals ever made, and their user interface, left over from that era, is unparalleled – has fallen so far behind on the technology curve that in a quad-band world they have been unable to produce anything more than a tri-band handset – hardly a “worldphone.” Indeed, if you look at the last 25 GSM terminals released by Nokia, you discover that 9 of them (36%) are current-technology domestic dual-band devices, one of them (4%) is an outdated single-band device), and fifteen of them (60%) are outdated tri-band devices. None of them (a whopping 0%!) are current technology worldphones!

It is certainly not uncommon, as technology advances, to see companies fall behind. Sometimes, when this happens, they simply go out of business or are acquired. Or, if they have a lot of cash, as Nokia does, they may acquire a smaller company that has kept up with technology. But, in general, no matter what your status, you really don’t want publicity telling others that you are falling behind. And you certainly don’t want to be putting it out yourself!

If Nokia had an inclusive OPSEC program, the PR and advertising people would be in the loop, along with a manager able to distinguish information that is of benefit to the company from information that would embarrass the firm. While jokes about Nokia realizing there is a gap in the buggy-whip industry are amusing, they are probably less so internally, especially since they can easily be avoided with an OPSEC program.

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