Hackers have effectively attacked and hurt the business prospects of companies from Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) to eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY). This week, eBay asked all of its customers to change their passwords. While Target and eBay have tens of millions of customers, those figures are not even close to Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) almost 1.3 million monthly active users. Because of its size, Facebook is the ultimate cyberattack target.
Hackers have proven themselves adroit at making their way into retailer databases, government websites and the cores of the electronic information systems of some of the world’s largest multinational corporations. The cyberattacks by the Chinese government on U.S. interests and those of American corporations have become so severe that the Justice Department accused five members of the People’s Liberation Army of “maintained unauthorized access to victim computers to steal information from these entities that would be useful.”
Not only can no other online business come close to Facebook in terms of members and visitors, none can match it in terms of the private information of its members, which runs from passwords to credit cards to personal habits and preferences. A successful cyberattack on Facebook could be unimaginably disruptive to hundreds of millions of individuals and countless businesses that have Facebook presences. Hackers who successfully make a major cyberattack on Facebook will become cyber-heroes, at least among the most malicious members of the cyber-community.
Hackers have become so skilled that the issue is not if but when some large portion of Facebook is taken offline completely, or some portion of the private data of many of its members is compromised. There is a perception among businesses and people that nothing kept online is secure anymore. A major cyberattack on Facebook would only serve to tremendously reinforce that.