'Greenwashing' is a good way to get hacked, says UD research - Technical.ly Delaware

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Sep. 30, 2020 8:15 am

‘Greenwashing’ is a good way to get hacked, says UD research

Engaging in performative social responsibility can put a target on companies, according to University of Delaware professor John D’Arcy.
Hackers are targeting companies that don’t walk the walk.

Hackers are targeting companies that don't walk the walk.

(Photo by Pexels user Darlene Alderson, used under a Creative Commons license)

Fake corporate responsibility — called “greenwashing” because it frequently involves self-presentation of a company as environmentally responsible — draws in a certain type of hacker.

University of Delaware’s John D’Arcy, a professor of management information systems (MIS) at Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, recently co-published the Information Systems Research paper “Too Good to Be True: Firm Social Performance and the Risk of Data Breach,” where he suggests that some hackers are more motivated by exposing corporate hypocrisy than financial gain.

Companies most at risk of being hacked are ones that present themselves as being socially responsible with surface-level efforts while not embedding social responsibility into the core of the business — think, a company that produces a large amount of ecologically unfriendly products touting a recycling program, or a company with no inclusion initiatives releasing a Black Lives Matter statement.

“An example of a firm that has been accused of greenwashing is Walmart,” D’Arcy told UDaily. “This is because Walmart has touted its investments in charitable causes and environmental programs, but at the same time has been criticized for providing low wages and neglecting investments in employees’ physical and psychological working environment.”

Firms that engage in social responsibility beyond surface efforts see fewer hacks and data breaches, the research found.

“Firms may be placing a proverbial target on their back, in an information security sense, by engaging in greenwashing efforts,” said D’Arcy.

Read the full story on UDaily.


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