Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has at last spoken publicly about the recent hack of Sony’s computer systems that sent the company reeling and nearly prevented the release of “The Interview.”

The attacks appear to have been a reaction to the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony initially responded by cancelling the film’s release, then changed the decision and opted to go ahead.

CNN reports that Hirai addressed the controversy at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, calling the hack “one of the most vicious and malicious” cyberattacks “in recent history.”

He said, “But I have to say that I am very proud of all the employees, and certainly the partners that we work with as well, who stood up against some of the extortionist efforts of the criminals.”

The Western world was shocked by the attacks, which resulted in the leak of sensitive employee data, internal documents, and embarrassing e-mails, including one in which the company’s co-chairwoman Amy Pascal makes insensitive remarks about President Obama, and a producer’s e-mail labeling Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”

While these leaked messages made great fodder for entertainment websites and blogs, a more significant debate surrounds the company’s protection of employee data, and this begs the question – How safe are your e-mails and personal info in the workplace? The answer according to many experts is not safe at all!

To be fair to employers, all computer systems can be vulnerable and therefore subject to hacking. Unfortunately, most companies are not prepared to deal with the consequences of an online cyber breach, and all anyone can do is try to stay one step ahead of those that may want to carry out a cyber-attack.

The Sony situation has given employers and employees pause for thought. If it could happen at Sony, could it not happen to any firm, or to anyone? From an employee perspective, here are five things to do to help ensure your personal information stays private:

Change Your Password Often – Experts agree to changing your password often and picking one that is less susceptible to hacking. There was a time when choosing your Mother’s maiden name would suffice as a password, however, nowadays that is just too easy to figure out (it’s amazing what someone can glean from your Facebook page). Experts suggest picking a password that is a phrase, like “Canada-is-the-best.”

Don’t Click On Ads – We’ve all seen those ads on social media pages that offer deals that are too good to be true. Well, they usually are and clicking on them can infect your computer. The same goes for suspicious e-mails or attachments. Personally, I always hover my mouse over an ad or attachment. Unless it’s from a trusted source I know, I won’t even consider opening it.

Limit Amount of Information on Social Media – You’d be surprised how much information people can find out about you from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. In most cases, it’s info that you’ve directly posted. Be aware that some people will want to use your information against you. It may be something as simple as knowing your date of birth and the school you attended in order to do a more specific search on the Internet. Voila! They have even more valuable info about you.

Ask for Your Employer’s Online Security Policy – Just what are your employer’s online security measures when it comes to preserving sensitive employee data? It is prudent to ask. As well, how are you as an employee protecting your own personal info? It may seem antiquated, but it doesn’t hurt to write down on a piece of paper your personal info like your passport number, social insurance number, driver’s license and credit card information and keep it in a safe place, hidden at home.

Never Bring Confidential Company Information Home – Always be extra careful never to bring confidential work information home. Many employers have strict policies against this, so make sure you know it and act accordingly. You never want to be the one that could have possibly contributed to a security breach in your company.

A new form of online terrorism is taking the world by storm. Moving forward, companies will have to deal with these kinds of cyber-security breaches on a more regular basis. Be prepared to keep your information secure.


Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of He can be reached at

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