Your privacy in times of data breaches

 

In this blog I want to discuss a remarkable video that I recently watched on LinkedIn (‘Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’’). It’s a video from Febelfin, the Belgian federation of the financial sector, to promote safe internet banking. We see a mind reader who traces back all sorts of personal information of random people just by reading their minds: tattoos, the colour of their house, medical information, details of their love life… He even ‘reads’ their bank account number and how much they spent on clothes over the last month! Of course all these people are genuinely surprised. At the end of the video one discovers how exactly he knew these personal details about the participants… I suggest you go and discover it yourself first.

I thought this video was quite shocking. You as well? Without knowing it, people are throwing away all kinds of private information about themselves online. Hackers can uncover your private life and can even trace your bank account number. Most people however do not seem to lose sleep over what happens with their online data. We share details about our life without thinking about the consequences, or where all this data is stored or what it is used for. People are kind of naive when it comes to online privacy. A few multinationals, like Facebook and Google, are using our online traces for their own good. In addition, news about data breaches is everywhere. The most recent incidents reported are from Dell and Marriott, in the latter case over 0.5 billion people are impacted. Their private information has gone public. The list of data breaches is endless.

Jaak Geens, founder of the NPO Geens.com, and his team developed a platform to let users take back control (individuals, governments or businesses) over their data. The purpose of this platform is to secure privacy and personal data online. The technology is based on encryption and blockchain, making your personal data private and allowing you to share it only with the ones you want to share it with. It’s basically a vault. Because you know, the cloud (where all our social media information for example is going to), is not a synonym for private. Geens not only covers the individual. Privacy by design is their credo for businesses. When organisations develop new software, it’s good to already keep the privacy aspect in mind from the initial development.

The analogy between this ‘geens’-vault for your data and our data centers as a vault for your servers is an obvious one. In times of cybercrime and data breaches, not only your data should be stored safely, your servers containing the data should be placed somewhere safe and secured as well. While our world is becoming more and more digital, more and more data will be shared and transferred, digital infrastructures will only expand. Yours too. Think through thoroughly where you want to place your digital infrastructure and processes. You do want to keep full control, don’t you?

So it’s good to be thoughtful about your data and to keep everything under your own control. Losing data or the connection to it, imposes a high financial and competitive risk. Data protection in these times of data breaches is the best investment you can make.

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