Feeds

HP: How not to manage a crisis

Not so Agile Business

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Comment HP grows leakier by the hour: today's Pretexting Scandal episode, brought to you by an unnamed source of the NY Times reveals that the company "conducted feasibility studies on planting spies in news bureaus of [CNET and The Wall Street Journal] as part of an investigation of leaks from its board". Check out those janitors, before they check you out.

Internal mails leaked yesterday to the Times and the WSJ undermine the know-nothing defence of the HP board. And they also blow a hole into the timeline offered by HP for its probe into the identity of the board snitch, which saw private detectives engaging in identity fraud to nab the phone records of nine US journalists, and even sending a trojan in an email to one surveillance target(it failed to load).

Worse, former board director Tom Perkins says he was told by chairman Patricia Dunn that a stepped-up investigation had begun into board leaks on 23 January, 2006 after an article about HP was published in CNET. However, CNET reporter Dawn Kawamoto was told by government investigators that her phone records were accessed on 17 January.

Rarely has deniability looked less plausible.

Barely a day has gone by since September 5, when Perkins debuted the Pretexting Scandal in an interview with Newsweek, without an unwelcome revelation or three for the beleaguered board. Each titbit brings with it the prospect of another lawsuit [although CNET would be exceptionally brave to sue one of its biggest advertisers]. What a mess.

So Dunn has resigned as chairman - but not till January. And she stays on as director. Her replacement? Why, CEO Mark Hurd, who gets to hold the top two jobs. That's how to trigger an argument over corporate governance. And what happens if, God forbid, Hurd, who has been conspicuous in his silence on the matter, is dragged into the debacle? That's two top jockeys the corporate headhunters will have to find.

This is an object lesson in how not to manage a PR crisis. Given the threat of criminal action hanging over individuals, it is understandable that the HP board has displayed the decisiveness of a rabbit caught in headlights. But may we recommend the Japanese Way of handling such things. Admit everything; accept responsibility for everything; issue a craven apology in front of the TV crows, and walk with head bowed out the door marked mass resignation. And don't forget to put that hefty severance check in your back pocket. Then everyone can move on. Except for the class action lawsuits, of course.

Admittedly, some aspects of the Japanese Way do not translate particularly well into corporate America – jumping out of tall buildings and Seppuku, or ritual self-disembowelling, are best left to people more accustomed to the traditions. . ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.