How Blockchain Technology Can Improve Data Security and Location Tracking Safety
The capabilities of modern-day smartphones transcend far beyond facilitating communication between two parties. Nowadays, applications that keep logs of personal information are a common occurrence.
Uber is undoubtedly one of the most popular applications all over the world. The tech giant started as out a simple ride-sharing app. It works by using the locational data provided by smartphones to connect to willing drivers working within the user's region. Essentially, it facilitates easy transport for its users, while the drivers and car owners find a new means of making money.
Over the years, the industry has grown considerably. Indeed, it has developed so much that people are speculating that Uber will run an initial public offering worth $130 billion. Notably, the net worth of the company was unknown to many until it emerged that the platform’s database was breached on several occasions, resulting in the loss of private data information.
Like Uber, leading social media website Facebook has also been attacked by hackers who stole crucial personal data. In fact, Uber made history by agreeing to settle a data breach lawsuit for a reported $148 million. It is obvious that the privacy of user information stored on such platforms is not guaranteed. Since locational data can be used for criminal purposes, the industry needs to come up with means of securing such information from hackers.
Existent policies on data storage and privacy are characterized by non-transparency. This means that users have no control over how their service providers use their personal data. Although newly enacted regulations such as the GDPR in European countries address the issue of transparency, they still come short in curbing other challenges. Similarly, centralized exchange platforms are vulnerable to hacking attacks. The centralized nature of their server means that they store vast amounts of user information, making them the ideal target for hackers.
The increasing demand for personal user data will necessitate the development of secure data storage mechanism. This will certainly involve abandoning centralized storage mechanisms for decentralized models. The problem, however, is that the motivation behind the companies shift’ to decentralized storage is not the confidentiality of user information.
An ideal example of the tradeoff users have to make between convenience and data privacy is locational data gathered by ride-sharing apps. Platforms such as Uber offer convenience, as users can easily access transport at the click of a button. Although users are aware that such companies store their confidential information on centralized servers, they tend to remain indifferent until hacking attacks occur. Furthermore, the preoccupation with expedience means that database breaches are often forgotten after a short time.
There are several ways through location data can be skewed with the intention of harming the owner. Recently, reports emerged that a corporate executive is using location data to find incriminating information on the media. Other potential use cases of stolen personal data include blackmail and coercion. Actually, the US military advises its personnel to desist from using services that share their GPS data on their mobile devices.
To improve data security and privacy, it is imperative to upgrade existing technical infrastructure. This is because technology is flexible enough to conform to the regulating changing security concerns. On the contrast, regulations cannot keep up with the pace at which the industry is evolving.
Public blockchain networks are essentially distributed ledgers secured by consensus algorithms. For instance, the Bitcoin network uses Proof-of-work to secure transactions conducted over the blockchain network. This decentralization makes blockchain ledgers a more suitable and more secure location than centralized servers.
Additionally, blockchain networks are compatible with IPFS, a protocol that has the security features of a distributed ledger and lets users to keep the data off-chain. Rather, it stores only the hash fingerprint of the data online. Hence, hackers cannot access user information even if they breach into the blockchain database.
Ridesharing companies can give users control over their location data by integrating blockchain technology into their operations. One such platform is Helbiz, a company with an Ethereum-based blockchain platform. Helbiz users can sell their personal data in exchange for cryptocurrency tokens.
The importance of data privacy will continue to grow as long as there is a market for personal data. As of now, the surefire option for securing such sat is adopting blockchain and IPFS storage technologies.