Big Data, Big Problems{8}

by Jongwoo Y
Zappos and 6PM, two of the largest online clothing retailers in the United States, have recently experienced a security breach in their big data. This cyber attack has effected the information of 24 million customers, the largest amount since the attacks that Sony had received last year. Barbara Scott, a director of a technology services business and victim to these recent attacks, believes that this type of attack should not be viable for companies with so much financial backing. “You would think companies like eBay or Amazon have the financial backing wherewithal to take the proper security measures.(Perlroth, 2012)” The attacks have been able to retrieve the customer names, encrypted passwords, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the last four digits of customer credit cards. What was even more outrageous than the attacks was the email that millions of Zappos customers received from the CEO, Tony Hsieh (who is usually held in high regard). In the email, Hseih apologizes, but instructs customers to send emails for questions rather than calling the support lines because they “simply aren’t capable” of taking the expected number of calls(Perlroth, 2012). This incident has left a sour taste in many Zappos customers, not only did they feel less secure with the breach, but also as if they have been not taken care of after the incident had occurred.

As a customer of Zappos myself, I also received the email informing me that my personal information was in jeopardy. The feeling that you get after reading the email is a mixture of being scared for your finances and anger towards the company for not taking care of their customer databases. The thing that’s even more frustrating about this situation is that it happened to another company one year before, and it was even on a larger scale. You would think that big businesses would realize how important of an asset their big data is and that they would put more effort into keeping it secure. To quote Barbara Scott from the article, “How hard can it be to find a safe place online to buy shoes?”

What was really appalling was the way the CEO of Zappos had handled the situation. By basically telling customers that they would not be able to receive any help over the phone, he basically told his customers to go screw themselves. At times like these, the customers are looking for any type of support, whether it be emotionally or for their questions about their financial well being. It is a huge mistake for Zappos to treat their customers in this fashion, especially after creating such a big blunder in the first place.


Perlroth, N. (2012, January 17). New york times. Retrieved from