Best columns: Business
Cybersecurity? You’re on your own.
Susan Hennessey Financial Times
Yahoo’s massive security breach, with 500 million accounts compromised, shows that companies still can’t be trusted to protect our personal data, said Susan Hennessey. Hacks of stores, corporations, and even governments are “now routine”; clearly, “when it comes to cybersecurity, we are not learning the right lessons.” Yahoo, like other firms before it, was quick to point the finger at state-sponsored hackers, which has the effect of suggesting that there was nothing the company could have done against a determined foreign enemy. But that’s deflecting blame from Yahoo’s own security lapses. Most data breaches, including those committed by foreign agents, exploit known weaknesses. Companies don’t take steps to fix these vulnerabilities for any number of reasons. Some hesitate to share information about cyberthreats with competitors. Others are afraid of inconveniencing customers by asking them to repeatedly install security updates. “The bottom line is that companies do not have adequate economic incentive to invest in security infrastructure.” Until something changes—like governments stepping in to hold companies responsible for cyberbreaches—the onus will be on individual consumers to safeguard their own data. “The only responsible approach is to presume breaches are inevitable and try to mitigate the damage.”
Let’s kill the 9-to-5 workday
Rebecca Greenfield Bloomberg.com
Too many of us are still “stuck on the clock,” said Rebecca Greenfield. Forty-two percent of workers aren’t in hourly-wage jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the traditional 9-to-5 schedule remains stubbornly rooted in our work culture, despite a mountain of evidence that it “doesn’t conform to most people’s lives, or their workflows.” Studies have shown, for example, that sitting in a chair for eight straight hours doesn’t translate into steady output; the best hours for productivity also vary from person to person. Some pioneering companies have experimented with workday variations, such as the four-day week or the six-hour day, but even those approaches measure efficiency in hours worked, not work performed. Perhaps the best schedule is no schedule at all. In a recent study, workers at an unnamed Fortune 500 company were given leeway to work whenever they wanted. “They didn’t work fewer hours, just different ones that better fit their lives.” The system resulted in an improved sense of well-being for all those involved, with no dip in the quality of work. But if that sounds too radical, perhaps employers could start with some wiggle room at the end of the day. “All we really want is a little control—and to make that 6 o’clock yoga class once in a while.”