Changing how you go about doing your work is the type of decision that can mortally wound a successful small or mid-sized business. But it's one Emma CEO Clint Smith and his team felt they needed to make a couple of years ago. The New York Times this week wrote about the web marketing company's software overhaul, which was rolled out a year ago. Yes, it came with hiccups and glitches. But it has set up the company to take future growth in stride.
The principal operating guideline was to design a flexible system that would remove the need to do anything like this again. “We didn’t know what the marketplace would look like in five years,” Mr. Smith said. “Also, we didn’t know how databases would evolve in five years either. We couldn’t design for the future, but we could design something that could adapt to what the future will bring.”
Local tech star Emma is taking on a publicly traded company based in Virginia over the latter's alleged infringement on its trademarked brand. In their suit, detailed here by James Nix, Emma execs say they have over the years approached MicroStrategy (Ticker: MSTR) several times about buying or leasing the emma.com Web address MicroStrategy registered in the 1990s. Earlier this month, MicroStrategy — which has a market cap of about $1 billion — launched its own Emma, a marketplace application for the Facebook community that is presented in a remarkably similar way to the Nashville-based Emma.
Emma’s suit claims the Virginia-based company uses the emma name in much the same way Emma’s own trademark is presented — lowercase letters, similar font and with a tagline directly under it and also in lowercase letters.
On the evening of September 7th, our regular security monitoring alerted us to suspicious activity and, ultimately, a breach in one of our databases. Immediately, our team began work to identify — and address — the source of the breach and investigate its scope. As our investigation has continued, we’ve learned that this was a sophisticated, deliberate attack with the apparent objective of targeting the email lists of customers in a particular geographic region of the world. (Since the investigation continues, we’re not yet disclosing all of those details.) In a small number of accounts (about 1% of Emma customers), the hacker was able to export email lists or access usernames and decode passwords to log into accounts and send spam. These customers have already heard from us directly, with details about the breach and an offer to help in any way possible. In other cases, customer information — including usernames and passwords — was accessible to the hacker. For these accounts, we’ve expunged all previously stored passwords that may have been compromised and assigned each username a temporary, highly secure password. This step means that any login information the hacker has is unusable. Those customers will be asked to create their own new passwords the next time they log in. We’ve put in place new password standards to ensure those new passwords are strong and secure, and we’ll be rolling those changes out to the entire Emma community soon.Some accounts were not affected at all, and the company believes it has fixed the problem.
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