Security Risks in Your Core Product
JAN 14, 2014

Security Risks in Your Core Product

Recently, security firm Fox IT based in the Netherlands wrote a blog post outlining that Yahoo’s Ad server had been infected with a malicious ad exploiting a vulnerability in Java and installing local malware on computers who saw or clicked on the infected ads. They estimated at the peak of the infection, 9% or 27,000 Yahoo users were being affected per hour. This report came on the heels of two other high profile security breaches with Target’s loss of up to 110 million customer’s credit and debit card data, and Snapchat revealing that 4.6 million of its users had their usernames and phone numbers leaked online.

One thing these 3 different attacks have in common is how they are all connected to the core value proposition for each firm and can have huge impact on the revenue (or potential revenue). Yahoo’s 3rd quarter earnings report shows $421M (39%) of revenue from displaying ads while Target’s 3rd quarter total revenue was $16.9B, up 1% from last year. If users shy away from sites that use ads.yahoo.com or if shoppers take their credit cards over to Walmart, the top line in 2014 may be at risk.

Snapchat is a little different as it has no earnings yet but will most likely create revenue from advertising and in app virtual purchases. They are hoping that they will be the next wave of social media/peer-to-peer messaging, replacing email/text/Facebook, but that game plan only works if the core product delivers on the promise of secure communications, continued high volumes of use and attracting each new generation of smart phone user. If they fail to hold their core audience, services like Vine or Instagram would be more than happy to be the next Snapchat if users are looking for an alternative and putting a dent in future revenue.

According to Symantec’s 2013 Internet Security Threat Report V18, 32% of all mobile threats steal information (like personal phone numbers, passwords, credit cards). These threats against mobile users are only bound to grow as worldwide use of mobile technologies and use of smart phones for everything to communication to purchases to gaming continues to explode. In this new mobile first world, companies will have to make security a top priority or it will more than likely affect the bottom line.


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