Scare Tactics Test Security

In June, people were willing to give away their first-born child in exchange for free Wi-Fi. Mindlessly, it appears.

Online security company F-Secure ran an interesting campaign that showcased how insecure people’s data are when they utilize free Wi-Fi. They sponsored an experiment organized by the Cyber Security Research Institute. In it, researchers set up a free Wi-Fi hotspot for public use, if they agreed to the terms and conditions that included a “Herod Clause” (Time).

Photo Retrieved from F-Secure Report "Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us"

Photo Retrieved from F-Secure Report “Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us”

The Herod Clause, in the most extreme round of experiments, stated that in return for free Wi-Fi, one would have to “render up their eldest child for the duration of eternity.” Six agreed to the terms and signed up, because who needs children when you don’t have to wait to watch the cutest new video of Rosie the Pig?

Watch the full video of the campaign here.

Luckily for the dim-witted bunch of six, F-Secure has officially said that they will not enforce their Herod Clause (The Guardian).

The rounds of experiments showed how rarely people read Terms & Services. Those who agreed to the terms established by F-Secure gave away their personal data, which included passwords, to the network. If you’re guilty of failing to take the time to read Terms & Service agreements, there are sites out there to help make the task easier like Terms of Service; Didn’t Read. 

Photo Retrieved from F-Secure Report "Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us"

Photo Retrieved from F-Secure Report “Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us”

F-Secure is an anti-virus, cloud content and computer security company based in Finland. Their campaign certainly would make anyone think twice about how secure they’re behaving online. This is especially true considering that celebrity photos are still leaked online. The campaign might even persuade people to use F-Secure’s services, or at least follow them on Twitter for helpful tips.


PR Daily noted how their campaign was “an interesting approach to content marketing: Scare the hell out of everyone and sit back as your message spreads.”

F-Secure certainly has raised the stakes for content marketing. With this video, they’ve brought to light a serious issue that people need to take into consideration and act on. Hopefully, F-Secure’s video will gain even more traction.

What do you think would happen if companies in other industries took the scare-tactic approach in their own campaigns? What would their campaigns look like? Would they be successful?

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