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Blogging Dust Up Hurts Apple Badly

By: Dan Morrill

Blogs have definitely entered the mainstream press when one erroneous and redacted...

... blog entry can alter the stock of a computer company.

This is exactly what happened yesterday to Apple, when Engadget posted an article saying that the IPhone and Leopard would be late getting to market.

Apple shares fell 3% of the news, wiping about 4 Billion from Apple's market cap after the news broke.

Pity the poor investor who sold Apple shares at $103.42 per share, today, after reading a blog report on delays to the iPhone. The rumor, posted to AOL's Engadget gadget site early this morning, briefly knocked $4bn off Apple's market value. Engadget, taken in by a spoof Apple internal email, reported the company's two most important new launches would be delayed, a new cellphone until October, and the computer company's new operating system till January. Source: Valleywag

The pressure in the blogging industry to get there first, and given that it was a spoofed e-mail from Apple, the security implications of this kind of thing is rich.

The real issue is not that the e-mail happened, but the impact the e-mail had on the market once Engadget posted. Sell before the article hits, buy on the dip, means that the person who did this could get busted by the SEC if they are implicated in the process. (Valleywag)

Apple's internal e-mail system was compromised in some fashion according to Engadget, they had what was seemingly an authentic e-mail from an internal source at Apple. That e-mail was quickly discovered and pulled shortly after it was sent out, but the damage was already done as people reacted on the information including supplying a copy to Engadget.

Gizmodo's take on this is that the people responsible are probably already fired if they were internal to Apple, and odds are most likely this will extend outwards if it was a stock manipulation scheme, as well as their own take on what they need to change on their site. This includes hiring professional journalists to help them out.

Stock manipulations are not new, false information injected into Web 2.0 systems or RSS feeds is not new. As security people solving this kind of problem, organic and non-directed means that the company not only has to be paying attention to what is happening in the formal press, but monitor the major blogs as well.

In addition to monitoring, working with corporate public relations, and on the investigative side managers and human resources will help in investigating this kind of problem. The problem for corporate investigators is that the odds of this trail leading to outside the company fairly quickly is going to have to involve the local police, and depending on cost or nationality, the FBI as well.

Having a well formed policy about false data injection into the blog and popular press is something that companies need to take a look at and figure out how they are going to handle false data that is quickly disseminated across the internet.


View All Articles by Dan Morrill

About the Author:
Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management. Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through his blog, Managing Intellectual Property & IT Security, and is an active participant in the ITtoolbox blogging community.

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