cyber security

Here we go again. Yet another hack in what appears to be a stream of never-ending, high-profile data breaches. And, the information gleaned from this online intrusion is obviously particularly scandalous. Countless marriages, families, and careers stand to be ruined. Granted, the individuals who chose to subscribe to Ashley Madison were already (although at the time unknowingly) subjecting themselves to the risk of ruin, but most turned to this specific service because they were assured that their actions would be discreet. Alas, so much for an attempt at secrecy.

Now, we neither condone nor condemn this particular service and the use thereof. In fact, it is not the morality (or immorality depending on one’s analytical approach) of the service or those who use it that interests us. Rather, from a purely technological standpoint (and we reiterate, without any judgment about the service itself or its numerous subscribers), we are disappointed by the company’s inadequate security, inability to protect client data, and the ensuing fallout that this epic failure has caused.

With that in mind, here are the three main reasons that companies must do everything feasible to protect any and all data that their clients entrust to them:

1. Reputation

In the case of the Ashley Madison hack, the reputational damage is affecting both company and clients. Unfortunately, millions of unwitting clients are experiencing the majority of the massive backlash as a result of their alleged misdeeds. But, the company is certainly not off the hook, and things are really just getting started. There have already been murmurs in the news of possible life altering tragedies linked to the data leak, and it is hard to say how many divorces will result as well.

It is pretty hard to see how the company could ever recover from the damage that has been inflicted. Of course, this may not be a company that most people want to see rebound anyway. Regardless, the aftermath of this avoidable calamity should serve as a strong warning to companies currently taking a lackadaisical approach to securing their client data. And, even those companies that believe they have strong data security measures in place may want to reevaluate and test their systems.

2. Financial Ramifications

At this point, it would be impossible to speculate as to what sort of financial ramifications Ashley Madison will be facing. Nonetheless, it is fairly safe to presume that the monetary impact will be significant. There are the obvious fiscal consequences associated with any breach such as lost revenue, but there are bound to be far more losses than could possibly be listed here. Plus, it would be remiss not to mention the substantial sums of money the company will likely end up paying out in damages.

In the end, it is always cheaper to invest in robust security measures in advance than to invest in cleaning up after an enormous data catastrophe. 

3. Litigation

Financial ramifications obviously factor heavily into any litigation that arises from a data breach, but there is a lot more stress and aggravation associated with litigation than just the cost of it. Litigation can take a serious toll on the people involved in the process. There are intrusive depositions that must be taken, evidentiary hearings and trials that can last for hours and days on end, and often the recounting of what may be rather painful testimony, which is particularly likely when the litigation is addressing highly sensitive matters (such as marital infidelity).

Although litigation is primarily meant to correct apparent injustices that have transpired, it often does so at quite a heavy price financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. As a result, companies must take adequate precautions to try to insulate themselves from having to deal with such a taxing occurrence. 

Implementing stringent security standards may not be the perfect solution to avoiding all potential mishaps. However, it will certainly help prevent the unwanted exposure of precious company data, particularly client information that is of tremendous value and significance.