Why sex scandals are good for data management

Convincing people of the importance of regular backups and a proper data management plan is a bit like persuading them of the necessity of regular visits to the dentist — no-one bothers until they wake up in the morning screaming with pain. But if you can't persuade them with pain, sex often works a treat.

Convincing people of the importance of regular backups and a proper data management plan is a bit like persuading them of the necessity of regular visits to the dentist — no-one bothers until they wake up in the morning screaming with pain. But if you can't persuade them with pain, sex often works a treat.

I was reminded of this during a conversation with Adrian Briscoe, who runs the regional operations for data restoration and management company Kroll Ontrack, including Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

According to Briscoe, the recent Edison Chen sex scandal has been an absolute boon for the company, greatly increasing interest in both backup products and ways of getting rid of unwanted data.

For those of you who don't following the collapsed careers of Hong Kong celebrities, here's the five minute version: Chen, an actor and singer, took his computer (a pink PowerBook, if you must know) to a Hong Kong repair shop.

Staff promptly copied more than 1,000 intimate photos, featuring naked Hong Kong starlets and assorted sexual acts involving Chen. The pictures leaked all over the Internet faster than red wine on the shagpile, and Chen ended up taking an "indefinite leave" from the industry in the wake of the scandal.

Subsequently, it seems that people visiting repair shops are being a tad more careful about what data they leave exposed, either shifting it to an external drive, encrypting it or, in radical cases, deleting it altogether.

While the impact may have been strong, Briscoe says that awareness of data management issues is much stronger generally in Hong Kong and Singapore than it is in Australia, where we conform to cliché and take a more laconic view.

Clearly, someone has to step up and deal with this issue. If an Aussie celebrity would like to volunteer to have their personal data stolen and nude pictures of themselves distributed across the Internet in the cause of better data management, that would be grand. The more famous, the better, though this could also be a useful PR boost for someone hoping to restart their career.

Alternatively: Shane Warne, this is your chance to give something back. And let's face it, you're already used to embarrassing mobile phone pictures getting national coverage anyway.

Another interesting snippet from Briscoe: apparently there's been a noticeable jump in the number of Macs being sent in for emergency hard drive restoration in Australia. Whether that's because there are more Mac users than ever before, Apple's gone cheap on the parts, the hard drives are inherently flakier or Intel is somehow to blame I leave for the fanboys to decide.

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