Data Breaches And Hackings On Centralized Businesses Is Making The Case For Blockchain Systems
The most recent example of gross mishandling of user information was in the wake of the scandal that involved a highly intellectual member of Cambridge Analytica serving as a whistleblower to the misdeeds of the company. But this news came in tandem with the loss of millions of users data.
The end result for the company was a significant drop in confidence in the eyes of its users, as well as a respective punch to the gut when it comes to its share value. While we all sign the same terms and conditions form, nobody ever thought themselves to be victim of harvesting of information, all without them knowing, and entirely without their permission.
But it is not just Facebook that can be held accountable for these kinds of transgressions against users. There have been far more instances of violations of user data by major companies. And the only thing that holds these companies accountable is the awareness of users to what has been happening.
Is it the fault of the user? By being far too trusting of the companies that they so readily provide with their information? Not sure it's so easy to delegate responsibility in such a way. We all joined Facebook, and use systems like Google under the same mutual feeling of trust. It is not a case of people being naive or too trusting. It's that companies have abused their power, and found that they can get away with deceiving, or failing their consumers.
The only difference with 2018, as opposed to any other year or decade of the internet, is that companies are unable to keep up with the respective rise of cybercrime. Consequently, this has resulted in a far larger number of data breaches making the headlines of mainstream news.
It's as a result of this increased rate of news reporting on data breaches and cyber attacks, that people are beginning to build up their level of literacy when it comes to the security of their information online. They are fast beginning to look at new, innovative, and otherwise decentralized ways to store their information safe and out of sight of large, centralized companies.
In their ongoing search for these measures of protecting their information, blockchain becomes one of the topics of discussion. This is especially true when it comes to the kind of solutions that are made possible through the use of Distributed Ledger Systems, and already existing products that would give power back to the end-user.
One of these initiatives includes, what we can see now as a challenger to mainstream browser providers, the Brave Browser. Initially launched in December 2018 on Mac, Windows, Linux, as well as iOS and Android for mobile users. The developers behind the browser had their sights set on preventing companies from getting access to a users information.
Unlike other browsers, Brave only provides users with advertisements as part of its elective testing. Those that do provide information are rewarded with the browsers native token, ensuring that users are either protected from malfeasance from centralized service providers or ensure that users are part of the transaction process.
As for providing more secure systems for storing personal information, users have increasingly been looking to blockchain projects as an answer to centralized counterparts. When it comes to the latter, blockchain projects have proven that they may have the answer. One of these examples being Civic, which was one of the first companies that look to leverage blockchain technology in order to give consumers the level of autonomy they want over their data.
While Civic was one of the pioneers of blockchain for data handling and security. The level of user demand has grown exponentially since Civic began. And, as a result, has led to a large number of blockchain companies and initiatives in general emerging, meaning that Civic was soon to be outpaced by these newcomers.
While we have seen a significant number of projects that have emerged since this time, all in order to provide users with more autonomy over their information. The facts are clear that users and their voices are clearly being heard: and it's a general call for far more in the way of data security than centralized systems are currently providing.
Our Data At Risk
If we could mention one name as being the overly loud and clear tip of this proverbial iceberg – it is from the data and analytics firm – Cambridge Analytica which splashed onto the front pages of every major news outlet in 2018.
But it is far more than just one analytics company being called out by one of its employees; over the course of the first months of 2018, a staggering total of 2,300 data breaches were publicly reported to have happened. Gross mishandling of users data, and broad negligence by companies worldwide.
To give a more staggering number to this volume of data breaches: it resulted in the exposure and/or subsequent loss of over 2.6 million users personal records and information. This is all according to a report by Risk Based Security, which works as a cyber risk intelligence agency.
While this statistic makes for hard enough reading, they are certainly not the ones landing on the front page; that's where we will come to see the major names and players in the tech field. It is because of these companies that a general change in mindset took place within members of the public.
In the aftermath of these cases, there have been more people waking up to realize this one unfortunate truth about social media providers: they devour data and information from users at a ravenous pace and scale. And while users have otherwise been content to provide this information, there is an increasing number of users that have decided that enough is enough.
“Every week we are seeing news of breaches from major corporations,” Ryan Faber, working as the co-founder of the blockchain company – Bloom. The company itself uses blockchain in order to provide users with a way to store their information behind a system secured by a cryptographically powered system.
Faber himself doesn't seem surprised at all by the movement of hundreds of thousands of internet users over to blockchain, especially services like Bloom.
“The public is starting to learn about the murky world of data collection. Many are shocked to learn that every moment, servers are logging, cataloging, and selling your personal, private information.”
While there have been arguments orienting around the question of the value of data, and whether it is the ‘new oil.' Whether or not data has an attributable value akin to that of oil remains to be seen. But what we do know is that it has a value enough for it to be sold in high quantities. Respectively, there is a tendency from companies to have woeful levels of security when it comes to storing the millions of terabytes of information taken in by companies.
The Security Of Blockchain Technology
Taking a closer look the function and application of blockchain technology demonstrate what kind of value and utility it has in data storage. This is especially true when it comes to highly sensitive information provided on a daily basis by unsuspecting users.
So what is it that makes Blockchain technology such an effective and disruptive force? It comes down to the fact that it provides users with a far greater degree of sovereignty. Immutable and (relatively) resistant to cyber attacks, it can also prevent any possible breaches that may happen from otherwise undesirable actors.
One of the more intriguing elements of blockchain technology is the fact that users are able to complete transactions of this information. This not only spells out a far more secure system for users, but has all the potential to make them players within a market that was once dominated by big businesses and third parties interested in users data.
Out of the companies that we know now as being interested in leveraging blockchain. Civic was one of the first that considered taking information relating to personal identity, along with other sensitive data onto the blockchain.
“The demand for secure identity and better data management practices has been huge,” Faber goes on to assert.
“More than ever, people want to take back control of their data. We’ve seen this reflected in our rapid user growth for example, with more than 120,000 BloomIDs created last year alone.”
So is this where the potential of blockchain technology ends? Not at all. Blockchain has the power, not only to store this information in a secure way, but it has the ability to provide the user with a way to change the information that they have provided.
This system of immutability, highly secure storage, as well as being completely decentralized is diametrically opposed to the way things are in the mainstream. For these major companies: information is taken from individual users for no monetary recompense, other than allowing them to continue to use their service.
Along with this information being extracted from (often) unknowing users, this information is then sold off in large quantities to third party companies, all without the individuals knowing about it.
Faber explains some of the attributes that sets blockchain technology apart from the mainstream systems that we know. Especially with regards to data security.
“The access to your data is stored locally on your device, meaning you have ultimate and complete control over your data. The data doesn’t touch a traditional central server, reducing the risk of a data breach. For instance, we use public-key cryptography to securely store and share your data with parties of your choice.”
Data has a price tag, but for what amount isn't fully known. What is know is that it is a price tag that is fast growing, and individual users are being lied to about the use of their data, while also being left out of a transaction of THEIR data.
As we progress, it will certainly be a central discussion point that consumer interest will orient around data protection.
While individuals have come to suffer under mainstream companies, and the latter systematic abuse of their information. They are beginning to wise up to the fact that they are being taken advantage of, and that they need to take action to secure their data. And one of the ways is through blockchain. As a result, any company that openly offers users data storage through an entirely objective blockchain solution will be highly appealing for consumers.
Bloom is one of the examples of this that we have seen so far. Working in conjunction with the Middle East department of the international credit card company American Express, both have worked to innovate within the Fintech sector in line with the latter's ACCELERATE ME initiative.
One of the further votes of confidence that Bloom enjoyed was its more recent selection as one of the six startup companies for the Financial Services Collaboration Lab.
Civic has also been steadily working to create and subsequently launch a new secure identity system.
Secure Data Storage
Blockchain technology continues to earn its reputation as one of the more innovative and disruptive pieces of technology. It has been used to disrupt a wide range of features across a far broader range of industries. While this is the case, these sectors are still hunting for the ‘Killer App' that would make for a powerful real-use case.
While real use cases are few and far between, the technology has proven itself as a powerful tool for storing and protecting users data, and while the scandals continue to stack up for mainstream companies, respective demand for the technology will continue to increase.