Data Privacy Day: Balancing Protection, Convenience


Several years ago I remember my response to seeing Google's search doodle of the day appear as a birthday cake with candles in my web browser on my actual birthday. I'd never heard of that happening to anyone before, and it was the first time it had happened to me. I thought it was sort of cool and also sort of creepy. Today, I expect it. My perspective has shifted. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be paying attention to data privacy issues, particularly as we celebrate Data Privacy Day on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Organizations collect and keep more and more data about you and me than ever. Every purchase you have made and website you've viewed is stored somewhere so that companies can glean insights into what you may want to buy or see in the future. Since the introduction of the iPhone and mobile apps in 2007, companies also have been able to collect information about where you go, the physical stores you visit, the photos you share on social media, and more.

So for me as a consumer the question will always be, "Do I trust this organization to keep my data secure. Does this organization deserve my trust?"

That's why data privacy and the related issues on the corporate side of data governance and compliance, should be a big priority for organizations today. Your data is valuable, according to Matthew Magne, an expert in data management and Global Principal Product Marketing Manager at analytics software company SAS (SAS is the sponsor of this site).

Data breaches can harm corporate reputations, end executive careers, and result in expensive legal settlements.

The rise of big data has focused even more attention on the issue of data privacy, Magne told me in an interview. Today we have Google's Nest, Amazon Alexa, and many other devices collecting more information about us than ever. We are sharing more information on social media.

Teenagers and younger kids are getting into the game, too, and they tend to be much less inhibited about sharing than their parents are or want them to be.

Magne's children use an app called musical.ly on their Kindles, and the app has a social media component to it.

"By default the app is public, and within two days my daughter had 45 videos up there," Magne said. "I have to manage this as a parent, too."

Magne says he is becoming the IT governance and data police force in his own home, making sure his kids get the fun and enrichment from the app, but also stay safe.

(Image: StaySafeOnline.org)

(Image: StaySafeOnline.org)

Companies face a similar challenge, he said, balancing between the rise of self-service access to data to empower business users, and making sure to protect that information so that the wrong people don't have access to what should be private.

So what should you do to celebrate Data Privacy Day? If you are in charge of data governance and compliance for your company, you may want to check out All Analytics' most recent Academy session which focuses on several topics surrounding the protection of customer data.

Companies that offer analytics software also often offer data privacy protection solutions, too. Magne pointed out that his company's offerings include data masking technology as well as solutions designed particularly to help companies meet regulatory requirements for data privacy in both the US and in Europe, where the more stringent General Data Protection Regulation is in place.

From the consumer side, you may want to look at your own personal IT security and privacy practices. Do you have secure passwords for your devices and the sites you visit? Are you making sure you use different passwords for different sites? Do you read all the permissions that you are granting to apps that are downloaded to your mobile device? Are you ensuring the rest of your family are following these best practices, too?

Or you can go the extra mile and put tape over your laptop's webcam and microphone, as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly done.

What are some of your data privacy best practices, either personally or inside your organization? Let us know in the comments.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps, Informationweek

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data for smarter business and a better world. In her spare time she enjoys playing Minecraft and other video games with her sons. She's also a student and performer of improvisational comedy. Follow her on Twitter: @jessicadavis.

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Re: Moving target
  • 3/17/2017 5:40:47 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Kq4 writes


I found it interesting lately that data from state's voter information is appearing more and more when doing online name searches. In many cases not only can you find name, address and political affilation in voter registration data, but also phone numbers. I wonder how many voters realize that their info is public?


 

This issue brings to mind the emerging news reports about Cambridge Analytica and their use of big data models to both assess and manipulate voter data to achieve desired election outcomes (mainly for rightwing causes). 

According to a fairly recent article in the UK's Guardian newspaper, Cambridge Analytica is heavily bankrolled by the mage-billionaire Wall Street financial wheeler-dealer Robert Mercer, who also is the big paymaster behind Breitbart News and its associated personnel (e.g., Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway) who now have top-level positions in the Trump regime. Mercer, of course, helped bankroll the Trump campaign directly.

According to one individual familiar with Cambridge Analytica, quoted in the article,


We make mathematical models of the financial markets which are probability models, and from those we try and make predictions. What I suspect Cambridge Analytica do is that they build probability models of how people vote. And then they look at what they can do to influence that.


 

So not only is your voter information susceptible to being reviewed, it may be analyzed and deployed in ways to manipulate your voting behavior.

Ah, the miracles of technology ...

..

 

Re: Moving target
  • 2/21/2017 3:43:09 PM
NO RATINGS

At least in Florida when I Google a name and city, often a link comes up to voter registration data from a website that mines that data from the state. Of course it won't show how they voted but it does give political party and address and phone number for some. The name and address didn't surprise me but showing the phone number was. But it may be that the phone number isn't coming from voter registration but a phone book database?

Re: Moving target
  • 2/6/2017 3:53:42 PM
NO RATINGS

I remember reading a little about thier approach to data analysis. I assumed they worked with actual voter records and connected that data to social accounts. It would be counterproductive to analyze social media chatter alone.

Re: Moving target
  • 2/6/2017 1:23:17 PM
NO RATINGS

@Michelle I think there must be ways of tapping into some of that data through social media. Check out a 2012 article from The Atlantic, "When the Nerds Go Marching In." theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/when-the-nerds-go-marching-in/265325/  I heard a pesentation by Rayid Ghani, currently the Director of the Center for Data Science & Public Policy at the University of Chicago, about how he worked on Obama's 2012 campaign with such data. He said they were able to come up with a score for individuals on a scale of zero to 100 that showed just where they were inclined for or against the candidate. Leveraging that data, they focused attention on where you get the most bang for your buck. You don't waste resources on those very close to either end but focus on those more in the middle who can be swayed to your side.

Re: Moving target
  • 2/6/2017 12:28:57 PM
NO RATINGS

I didn't think voter data was public, but I knew it could be requested from the state. How do you find your own voter data?

Re: Moving target
  • 2/6/2017 9:17:08 AM
NO RATINGS

I found it interesting lately that data from state's voter information is appearing more and more when doing online name searches. In many cases not only can you find name, address and political affilation in voter registration data, but also phone numbers. I wonder how many voters realize that their info is public?

Re: Moving target
  • 2/3/2017 8:34:02 AM
NO RATINGS

@SethBreedlove, Luckily my bank is very good about raising flags when odd charges hit.  I've never had my card data stolen that I know of but my wife has had it happen 3 times in the past year.  Every time it happens she gets a call from the bank to ask if she made a charge at a specific location because it is far enough out of our geographical area that it raised flags.  She monitors spending closely and balances our books every few days if not every day so odd charges are picked up very quickly.  Sadly the fact that this keeps happening means that it's working for the criminals so the majority of the world isn't keeping up on their own transactions. 

Sony, Data Security and The Danger of Social Engineering
  • 2/1/2017 10:46:37 PM
NO RATINGS

Due to my technical background and position I have been dragged "kicking and screaming" into the area of Security. Learning as fast as possible all the while knowing the "bad guys" are miles ahead already.

Data Breeches can literally bring a company under or at least render it damaged for a period of time. My personal favorite Sony Pictures is a modern day example of that.


But the question is how do you best protect data?  The Tech industry has reasonably good hardware and tools which can for the most part address security satisfactorily.  So How do these systems and networks become compromised ?

Most often it has nothing to do with the command line, at least not at first, the best hackers are apt to use this tool only after they have exposed the weakest link.  So What is that ?

The employee.

Yes, the employee falls victim to social engineering at nearly every turn. Passwords are not typically discovered - they are given. One password in the hands of seasoned hacker makes headlines - ask Sony.

Anyhow, that is the chief challenge, that no one really wants to acknowledge. We would rather think the hacker some Genius - it takes no Genius to get Bob to give you his password thinking you are company IT.  So simple and yet so difficult to thwart.  You can talk education of the user but people are human and we know what that means.

So security professionals can institute all sorts of safeguards, but all it takes is a one successful socially passed on password to cause the millions spent on security to be deemed useless.

Just ask Sony.

Re: Moving target
  • 2/1/2017 10:30:52 AM
NO RATINGS

Yeah, my first card number theft was for my debit card that was tied to my checking account. All my personal funds from checking and savings were cleared out, and my overdraft protection hit my linked credit card before the Credit Union's fraud alert was triggered. I had to file a police report and go to the credit union's headquarters before they would help me. Painful. 

Re: Moving target
  • 1/31/2017 11:58:27 PM
NO RATINGS

It's nice having company to share a tinfoil hat with ;)

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