Tech Whistleblowers Needed: Inquire Within
Facebook, Google, Samsung, Microsoft – we rely on large tech companies to safeguard our privacy and time and again they let us down. Yet tech companies are known to be highly selective employers, hiring the best and brightest and often paying better than companies in other industries. So how is it that they remain vulnerable to data breaches with such talent at their disposal?
Cisco whistleblower James Glenn has an explanation, “The reason that stuff like this happens is because nobody is speaking up. And there are very talented people within arm’s reach of these pieces of software.” Glenn was working at a Danish Cisco reseller when he discovered a significant vulnerability in Cisco’s video surveillance software. He reported the issue to his employer and to Cisco, thinking he would get credit for the find. Instead, he was fired.
Unfortunately, Glenn’s story is not unique. Whistleblowers often lose their jobs and suffer significant personal problems. Attorney Mary Inman describes the “brutal circumstances” whistleblowers can face and counsels prospective reporters to ask some deep questions: “Just because you have it, should you pull the trigger on it? What does it mean for you professionally and personally, just given the high cost and the personal toll that is imposed on people who might choose to blow the whistle?”
Considering these risks, it is important for potential whistleblowers to carefully consider their options and determine for themselves if coming forward is the best course of action. In this process, it’s often helpful to seek counsel from an experienced whistleblower attorney. Now 42, Glenn recognizes he wouldn’t make the same choices today as he did nearly ten years ago. Yet, despite everything he’s been through, he still thinks it’s important to take a stand and ensure vulnerabilities are fixed: “It is everyone’s responsibility to wear out your welcome. If you have to upset someone to get the point across, get it across.”
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