eBay Security Breach Concerning for Digital World


Anything that is man-made will have flaws, and this means that the world will constantly be working toward improving every system that has been created. Simultaneously, this means that for every imperfect system, there are individuals and groups with malicious intent that will try to subvert the contributions that value-adding businesses and companies have made over time. eBay released a statement on Wednesday regarding a hack that took place about three months ago, during late February or early March. The digital breach that eBay encountered is a reminder for Internet users old and new throughout the world to maintain a persistent concern for their security, and to never have too casual a watch on their personal information.

Prior to the eBay attack, Target Corporation announced in late December of 2013 that the company had experienced a very similar breach of information, one that they suspected to have involved a wide reach of customers. By early January of 2014, the company had released statements mentioning that the credit and debit card information of around 40 million Target customers had been affected by the attack, and that nearly 70 million other customers had information such as their phone numbers, mailing addresses and names accessed, raising the total number affected to about 110 million. This number is more than one third of the U.S. population.

Having so many customers affected truly puts the potential damage of hacking efforts in a fuller light. Fortunately for eBay users, while the digital attack seems to have involved physical addresses and phone numbers, the company stated that they have not yet made any findings indicating that credit card or financial information was compromised. For a company that will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, and one that has a net income approaching $3 billion, suffering a security attack bolsters the sentiment that no digital platform can be entirely hack-proof.

In the wake of these two security breaches in the digital world involving prominent companies, other organizations (regardless of size) would do well to heighten their level of concern for protection in the digital world, lowering the chances that they would encounter an unfortunate story like eBay’s. Such an account is a reminder that for every team of technology developers that work for honest companies that strive to pioneer new qualities of life, there seems to be an equal number of technology operations led by individuals with a destructive purpose.

In the midst of pressing through the woes of the present, eBay may have some of their brightest days ahead, as equity research analysts Colin Sebastian and Rohit Kulkarni recently commented on the possibility of Google acquiring the e-commerce and online auction juggernaut. eBay has held ownership of PayPal since 2002, just seven years after eBay was launched, and for Google to collect both companies could change the face of the search engine mainstay’s success like never before.

In their article last week, Kulkarni and Sebastian observe that for Google to step in and pick up eBay’s already robust and flourishing business would be a very wise step to build the strength of Google’s financial transaction front. This would also provide Google with an e-commerce channel of nearly limitless reach, increasing the likelihood of customer crossover and therefore higher revenue.

Sebastian and Kulkarni also noted the growing tension between technology, commerce and payment systems companies, stating that business giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Apple are relentlessly pushing forward to create better and more convenient products for users more aptly than their competitors. Amazon recently acquired Goodreads and Double Helix Games, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in February of 2014, and Apple added LuxVue Technologies to their acquisitions this month, aiming to develop higher quality display screens.

As for eBay taking new steps to reinforce security, those details have not fully panned out yet. The security attack might have been tied to hackers gaining access through PayPal. PayPal has experienced issues with hacking of varying degrees since 2001, just three years after it was founded. In the past, hackers have often extracted small amounts of money from hundreds or thousands of accounts, instead of taking large sums of money from a few accounts with more funding.

Regardless of what took place, eBay having the potential to continue functioning under the wings of Google could bode much better for their long-term progress and streamlining of functionality. eBay has maintained their profits and momentum throughout a flurry of economic variations, as well as through the downsizing of the retail industry. As more consumers turn to online outlets to make a purchase, the pressure will be on eBay to ensure that their security game is tighter than ever.

For Google and eBay alone to combine working forces would bring the total number of employees to over 83,000, a number that has the potential to give way to stronger security ideas and greater digital reinforcement. As eBay makes a thorough effort to ascertain the full extent of their security breach, the rest of the digital world will hopefully act with greater concern for their own welfare, and proceed accordingly.

Opinion by Brad Johnson

Market Watch
Wall Street Journal

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