Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

6/18/2010
01:31 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
Commentary
50%
50%

BP And The Importance Of Calling Out Corruption

A recent article in Rolling Stone shows how the combination of a corrupt process for ensuring the safety of oil rigs, corruption of the information on the risk, the actual BP disaster -- and politics -- has resulted in the biggest environmental disaster in the country's history. It also mirrors a massive problem in IT security where political expediency, short-term financial gains, and personal benefits often trump good business practice.

A recent article in Rolling Stone shows how the combination of a corrupt process for ensuring the safety of oil rigs, corruption of the information on the risk, the actual BP disaster -- and politics -- has resulted in the biggest environmental disaster in the country's history. It also mirrors a massive problem in IT security where political expediency, short-term financial gains, and personal benefits often trump good business practice.Rooting out corruption should remain a high priority for any security organization, but it's not often taken seriously enough. (Here's Rolling Stone's Investigative Report on the BP Oil Spill, by Tim Dickenson.)

One of the first experiences I had with corruption was while running an internal audit team for a large multinational company. We ran into a problem where the U.S. government had been intentionally overbilled by $1 million, but it fell outside the scope of our team's work, and this practice had been overlooked by another team that had done a review before us. After attempting to escalate and resolve the problem, it became clear the political fallout would adversely impact the senior management of the firm, and I got the, "If you carry this forward, then your career is over" talk.

Regretfully, I was both young and newly married, so backed down. It is one of my life's regrets.

But this highlights the problem with even wanting to investigate corruption: The person doing the investigation, regardless of the outcome, is putting his or her job and career at risk. No one should have to choose between doing the right thing and his or her own future ever -- let alone on a regular basis.

Having faced this problem myself and chosen badly, it is hard for me not to feel sympathy for those in the Minerals Management Service who tried to point out the problems that resulted in the spill. In fact, the article clearly showcases that people who might have been able to help prevent the disaster would have been passed over for promotion or managed out of the agency under both parties.

If it's a career-killer to focus on corruption, then why should you still focus on it?

Just look at what is happening to BP and the satisfaction rating of the Obama administration. It is likely that this one spill will cause BP to fail and Obama to be a one-term president. The fallout of the disaster is already resulting in broad staffing changes in the Minerals Management Service, and the result will likely be that the majority of folks that covered up these bad practices will lose their jobs and careers. As the investigations continue, many could end up broken financially or incarcerated for extended periods of time.

Allowing corruption might seem like the easier path, but it is potentially a company-killer, and employees who are fired or laid off from a firm or organization that has been tainted by corruption generally find themselves pariahs in a tight job market.

In the end, your real choice when it comes to investigating and reporting corruption isn't report it or save your career. It's report it or resign. In fact, in many cases you might have to report it and resign, but in the end you'll likely be better off long-term than if you allow it to continue because then you are likely to be fired and be unemployable.

It isn't particularly heroic if the personal reward for a particular action is clear. In this case, however, the alternative to not being heroic is vastly worse, and playing the hero and investigating and reporting corruption is in your own best interest. In my own case, I still regret folding under pressure, and both changed careers and changed that practice after doing it that once.

Here is hoping you can learn from my example and this BP case and not have to live with making this mistake yourself.

-- Rob Enderle is president and founder of Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24259
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Elementor Addon Elements� WordPress Plugin before 1.11.2 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-privileged users such as contributors, all via a similar method.
CVE-2021-24260
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Livemesh Addons for Elementor� WordPress Plugin before 6.8 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-privileged users such as contributors, all via a similar method.
CVE-2021-24261
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “HT Mega – Absolute Addons for Elementor Page Builder� WordPress Plugin before 1.5.7 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by ...
CVE-2021-24262
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “WooLentor – WooCommerce Elementor Addons + Builder� WordPress Plugin before 1.8.6 has a widget that is vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-priv...
CVE-2021-24263
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Elementor Addons – PowerPack Addons for Elementor� WordPress Plugin before 2.3.2 for WordPress has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scriptin...