The data breach that unsealed the notoriously tight lips of Ashley Madison would likely find some sympathy over at the state’s largest university.Rutgers was subjected to a number of high-profile cyberattacks in the last school year, culminating in the announcement that the FBI would be working with the school to attempt to stop the attacks. And NJ.com reported last week Rutgers hired three firms, and is willing to spend up to $3 million, to prevent the kind of chaos students and researchers were forced to endure last year.
The growing threat posed by the hackers that take aim at increasingly invaluable Internet resources is something no business should ignore. Sometimes, it’s political — naming your bar Scotland Yard, as a Hoboken watering hole has done, is practically asking Iranian hackers to take you down, which is exactly what happened — and sometimes, the prospect of succeeding at taking down a major target, like a bank, university or financial exchange is too tempting to ignore. But while big companies earmark millions of dollars to safeguard against attacks, small companies are often too busy running their companies and meeting customer demands to pay attention to how vulnerable they might be in cyberspace.
Smaller companies may feel they don’t have to fear these attacks, because the release of data, while annoying for customers, probably isn’t going to end marriages or lead to suicide, as has reportedly been the fallout from Ashley Madison. But in a world where technology plays a larger and larger role in how business gets done, failing to shore up vulnerabilities is the equivalent of putting your customers on hold and having them listen to Michael Bolton playing softly while being told their call is important to you. And if you’re not carefully watching your website — hi again, Scotland Yard — you may be turning off potential customers and costing yourself real business.
In the week after the attack on Ashley Madison was made public, the company offered half a million dollars to anyone who could identify the hackers. We can only imagine how much more useful that money would have been before the outing of the company’s customers and the ruination of its reputation, such as it was. Hopefully, small business owners get the message and begin taking cybersecurity more seriously. It’s something Rutgers has figured out, and we applaud them for aggressively moving to protect its systems and reputation.