Notes on Negotiation: Illegal Hacking as a Negotiation Tool?

Illegal Hacking as a Negotiation Tool?
Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

My first Negotiation Golden Rule is “Information is Power:  So Get It!”  This maxim was taken to a new and untoward level by computer hackers in the Coca-Cola Company’s failed attempt to buy the China Huiyuan Juice Group in 2008.

According to the New York Times:

As Coca-Cola executives were negotiating what would have been the largest foreign purchase of a Chinese company, (hackers were) busy rummaging through their computers in an apparent effort to learn more about Coca-Cola’s negotiation strategy.

The attack on Coca-Cola began, like hundreds before it, with a seemingly innocuous e-mail to an executive that was, in fact, a spearphishing attack. When the executive clicked on a malicious link in the e-mail, it gave the attackers a foothold inside Coca-Cola’s network. From inside, they sent confidential company files through a maze of computers back to Shanghai, on a weekly basis, unnoticed.

The obvious and specific lesson learned here is that extreme caution should be taken when clicking on links or opening attachments, especially from persons whose interests aren’t aligned with yours.

And recognize the general importance of protecting your proprietary and confidential strategic information because your negotiation counterpart may be trying to get it, perhaps even in unethical and/or illegal ways.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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