Lessons from the Sony Hack

The recent hack of Sony’s internal communications may seem like something that doesn’t affect the average Joe all that much. Let’s face it: It’s unlikely that a group of hackers will have any interest in digging around in most of our personal communications.

But there is an important takeaway for everyone who lives their lives online these days (which means nearly everyone). That is, nothing is really private once you write it online, send it as an email, or text it to a friend or colleague.

For students and graduates of Branford Hall’s career training programs, the Sony incident is a powerful reminder that conducting yourself in a professional manner is just as important as staying current with your skill sets in massage therapy, medical billing and coding, computer networking, or any other career program Branford offers.

You can bet that there are more than a handful of Sony executives and employees who are wishing that they’d shown a little more caution before spouting off about company policies and initiatives.

Even Private Messages Aren’t Private

Even if you don’t work for a global organization, the fact is that missteps in company communications and bad behavior online can be career killers.

Keep in mind, most IT departments have full access to all messages sent via company email. Using private email addresses while at work doesn’t guarantee your privacy either. Reason: Any messages sent over company servers can be retrieved and viewed by company personnel. And of course, emails and text messages can easily be forwarded.

While it may feel good to let off steam in the moment, remember that social media rants about supervisors or coworkers can be copied and shared – which may lead to uncomfortable work dynamics, or even to demotions or terminations depending on the severity of the statements.

Keep Yourself In Check

So how can you ensure that your career doesn’t fall victim to a momentary lapse in judgment?

Try to remember the “billboard test.” That is, imagine that everything you’re writing will be placed on a billboard on the side of the highway. Now imagine coworkers and friends driving by … what would their reaction be if they saw your words?

Apply the billboard test to your most-recent social media posts. How would your past ten posts hold up?

The takeaway: Privacy in the online world is an illusion. Those who conduct themselves in a dignified, professional manner both on and off the job, are more likely to get head in a competitive workplace.