Hackers: A Safety Issue

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By Wanda Curlee

Recently, my doctor’s office was attacked with ransomware—potentially causing a major safety issue.

Think about it: What happens if you have a life-threatening illness? All the medical records, including any tests and results, are no longer available. How can the doctor treat or even advise patients without that information?

For instance, a relative of mine recently had blood clots. To diagnose the issue, doctors performed a special blood test with the results delivered to the doctor within an hour. Had the doctor’s office been hit with ransomware, the results would have been lost—and there would’ve been a high probability of death.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the number of devices that are now connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) heighten the risk of hacking—and the potential devastating effects.

So, how does this affect project management professionals? Project managers must understand that hackers are a reality and they must ensure that their team has the necessary training.

Program managers should establish the security protocols for all projects in the program. Each project will determine the security within the bounds of the program’s processes.

At times, the program manager may have to determine if security needs to be linked between the various projects. The program manager would need to monitor all protocols and make sure that program-level personnel coordinate the activities between the projects.

How does this affect the portfolio manager?

The portfolio manager needs to understand the company’s industry, the strategy objectives and the project/program landscape. At times, the portfolio manager may even have to present safety precautions as it relates to the industry’s IoT and AI to senior executives. By presenting the information, senior executives may alter a strategy or advise the portfolio manager to include security for IoT and AI in business cases.

And remember: In the future, project management tools may include IoT and AI. Can you imagine if a hacker were able to adjust settings, wipe out projects or use ransomware to block all access to project information that’s stored in the cloud?

This could be devastating. Let’s face it—a company without projects is a dead or dying company!

How are you ensuring hackers don’t devastate your projects or those of your customers?

Posted by Wanda Curlee on: June 12, 2017 01:24 PM | Permalink

Comments (27)

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Good Post Wanda - Hacking is becoming an alarming issue.

Hadn't thought of the real dangers of ransomeware in that way, thank you for sharing.

Rami - thanks for your comment. Hacking is so disruptive that we actually need to think about it in our everyday lives.

Liana - Ransomware has attacked many companies. Disney suffered from a ransomware attack not too long ago.

Eduin - Thanks for the comment.

Good Post, Wanda.

As a Project Manager, as you commented I work hard to ensure that all my team is using and following the security procedures, not always is easy...communication is key.

Cyber attacks are a fact of life for program and project managers. PMs have access to sensitive data that can be sold on the black market or to some competitors or other criminals!

Cyber attacks are a fact of life for program and project managers. PMs have access to sensitive data that can be sold on the black market or to some competitors or other criminals!
Just think about the safety issue associated with hacking connected cars!

Kevin - Thanks for your comment. Any device with software is a potential for hacking. Cars would definitely fit into the category. Yes, many project and program managers have access to corporate secrets or government secrets. Each of these can be devastating to the company and/or a government if the information is leaked or the software is compromised.

@ Wanda Think about the other side of this issue. Hackers don't steal the data - they just change the data upon which we all operate and report and plan. We would not know what reality really is in the data world!


Hello Kevin - I have thought about hackers changing data and I can imagine a devastating effect. Identity theft is changing data albeit someone taking over someone else's identity. It is a scary world!

I agree with the above comments. Stolen records, identity theft, changing data and so on...its creepy, alarming, threatening, devastating. Thank you for sharing.

Jessica - We as project, program and portfolio managers have the opportunity to increase safety!

Good article to maintain / increase awareness and consider the RISK and plan for hackers and the potential negative consequence to our projects.

In respond to your question, "How are you ensuring hackers don’t devastate your projects or those of your customers?" I believe backing up the data may help to reduce risk; another method is to keep hard copy of important / all documents (which in some organizations/agencies is a requirement).

Thank you for sharing, good article

I know in the back of my mind I understand this concept but have not mentioned to my students in my project management class. I will now! Thank you for nudging me!

Omar - Thank you for the comment. I do agree that hard copy is good but the back up might be better as long as there is a clear firewall between the live data and the backup.

Dr. Sass - Thanks for your comment. Yes, students need to be very aware of this issue because I think it will be a fact of life in years to come.

Jose - Thanks for your comment

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