The reassurance of personal data security

Cooks Illustrated did a great job of turning a negative technical problem into a strong reassurance that “we will protect your data”

Dear Friend of Cook’s,

As you have probably noticed, our Web site has been offline since Monday. This was due to a file being deleted in the “back office” part of our site over the weekend. We did not know how, or by whom, this file was deleted. As we do retain sensitive personal information from our Web members and registrants, we decided, for security reasons, to take the site down immediately.

As soon as we discovered the problem, we took steps to determine the cause and to determine whether or not any personal information was subject to unauthorized access. As of today, Friday, February 3, we have no indication that any sensitive personal information was compromised, nor can we say for sure whether this event was caused by a purposeful act or by a system malfunction.

Out of an abundance of caution, we have removed all credit card information from our servers before bringing the site back online. That means that all aspects of our Web site are functional except for your personal account information and My Favorites. As soon as we have determined that it is appropriate for us to reintegrate the credit card information with our online services (hopefully early next week) our site will be restored to full functionality.

Although we were, of course, anxious to bring our Web site back online quickly, our most immediate concern has been the security of our customers’ sensitive information, and we therefore wished to move deliberately. This has required a bit of patience on your part and also on ours. Here, as in cooking, haste is no virtue. (Much like you, however, I do find waiting painful.)

We intend to update all paid Web site members by mail or email as soon as we have concluded our analysis.

Thanks so much for your patience.

Christopher Kimball
Founder and Editor
Cook’s Illustrated

Cooks Illustrated could have easily covered up the problem as a non-issue and continued with business as usual. Instead they showed that their customers are their #1 priority.

Kudos to Christopher Kimball and his team for being forthright with their technical issue. Establishing trust is similar to building a brand. You can’t force it. You have to practice it and let the consumers decide where you fall. I will continue to be a loyal subscriber, and now, also an advocate.

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