Security Exploits are Prodding the Public to be More Defensive About Online Services

The stream of news about successful malicious attacks against online SaaS offerings — recently breaking at a non-stop pace — appears to me to be finally prodding the public to take, at a minimum, a more defensive stance about the information these services ask of them. This is, of course, good news for the public, and good news for ISVs offering security solutions for online data communications.

I make this claim based on the frequency of publication, by mass market media outlets like the New York Times, of articles on this topic. Nicole Perloth, a writer for the Times published an article on Sunday, January 12, 2014, titled Stop Asking for My Email Address. This article is noteworthy for a few reasons:

  1. The examples in the article are based on the in-store (brick and mortar) experience of retail customers (including the author, herself)
  2. Each example is accompanied with a security tip
  3. The author admonishes the reader to adopt tighter security measures, and to start exercising them right away

The first point — stories of the experience of retail customers in brick and mortar retail locations — promises more cognizance by average retail product consumers. The vast majority of these consumers still make their purchases at brick and mortar locations. These shoppers are less aware of what online data communications is all about in the Internet era, and even less likely to have a useful idea of the security required to safely use SaaS offers, including e-commerce enabled web sites. So these examples provide them with useful scenarios as they develop better personal data security behaviors.

The author’s illustration of just what it means when Target expands the number of consumers likely affected by the security breach to 70 million, “So we’ll all feign shock that the Target breach did not just affect 40 million people as it previously reported, but well over one-third of America’s adult population.” (quoted from Nicole Perloth’s article, a link to which has been provided above in this post), is to be commended as only the least sensitive cut of readers are likely to maintain a “business as usual” attitude when the statistic is presented in this way.

The best method of protecting oneself from the threat of malicious subversion of cloud, SaaS offers certainly starts, and ends with oneself, my third point. I would have preferred reading how the author managed to gracefully decline the sales representative request for her email address, than to read the “secure” email address she ended up offering, but at least the seemingly “secure” email address is better than a more personal email address.

The important point, of course, is the negative impact a more security conscious consumer will have on the popularity of cloud, SaaS offers. I can’t help but think we will start to see some revenue misses in the next coming quarters from some of the more prominent players in this industry sector.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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