How to take back control of your data in 2020

Take back control

Chief Operating Officer of Crown Sterling, Joseph Hopkins says “There’s hardly a week that goes by these days where we aren’t confronted about another data breach or critical data loss which impacts millions of people”.

Such a statement has been made evident by the news reporting that agency, Equifax, will have to pay out $650 million due to a data breach in 2017 involving 150 million customers. Social media giants Facebook also paid a $5 billion fine in July 2019 due to the mishandling of user information. In an attempt to add context to these events Hopkins goes on to say “The fact is, network digital companies (e.g. social media companies) regularly orchestrate the unauthorized movement and selling of data and IP assets with little to no consent from their subscribing member base.” 

Media theorists predicted as early as 2011 that the problem with social networking sites like Facebook is that “we’re not the customers. We are the product.” But the public awareness and consequent backlash, only really reached breaking point this year. In August 2019, Crown Sterling launched a new cybersecurity product at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

The new application is designed to further complicate encryption codes by multiplying two primes together to obtain key encryption. This uproots existing protocol by allowing the prediction of prime numbers to secure cryptography in a product known as TIME AI for users and businesses. Using state of the art multidimensional encryption tech – including time, music’s infinite variability, AI and mathematical constancies – it aims to generate entangled key pairs to wrap around and secure data and applications. 

To understand data sovereignty’s rapidly growing movement, here are four ways consumers can gain control of their data. 

Build awareness of how our data is currently being monetized.

Believe it or not, companies are actually making money behind loosely worded service agreements intended to confuse and divert attention from the fact that Internet of Things (IoT) providers are attaining private data for third party sales to monetize it in a variety of ways – from targeted ads to predictive analytics.

An initial step to change this trend is to generate attention around it. Make sure you’re aware of what your signing – find out exactly where your data goes. IoT providers are not the only ones to do this, digital search and social media networks have also been doing this for a number of years.  Max Eddy writes in an article for PCMagThe collected data has value because of how it’s used in online advertising, specifically targeted advertising: when a company sends an ad your way based on information about you, such as your location, age, and race. Targeted ads, the thinking goes, are not only more likely to result in a sale (or at least a click) — they’re also supposed to be more relevant to consumers.”

Understand what information is being collected.

The more tech savvy and informed ones among us, may well be aware of such practices of ‘data mining’, but many of us are not. Data mining is not strictly limited to entries on well-known sites. Information is regularly ascertained about us every day and can include our location, browser type and also the links we click on. All of this can create a unique digital fingerprint and offers a detailed profile that distinguishes us from other web users.

This goes deeper still, and many sites also have a so-called cookie on our systems. This cookie basically follows us around the internet and remembers where we have been and what items are stored in checkouts ready for that all-important purchase. If our search habits are monetized, this becomes a problem.

Apart from service providers selling our browser histories and social media sites culling our personal information, there are still so many more under the table methods of data mining. Needless to say, there will also be many more to come, unless we take the next step seriously.

Become part of the solution, not the problem. 

In short consumers want to access a particular digital realm and so agree to whatever terms the website requires. Consumers are blindly ‘click happy’. It’s the same as wanting to cross the road but not being allowed to unless we agree to some sort of data collection.

Yet this Faustian deal – to be able to take part in mainstream modern life – is not something to be easily shirked. Businesses also have to play the game and are subject to larger data extraction risks which come in the form of security exposure.

NBC news states that, the financial damages incurred by data breaches are increasingly common and damaging. IBM sponsored a 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study which found that the typical cost for each lost record increased from $141 to $148 – a rise of 5%. Healthcare organizations were among those with the highest rates of stolen records.

Although some companies are taking advantage of the disproportionate power struggle, this could enforce all enterprises to convert their in-house operating models from one layer of cybersecurity protocol to more safeguarding.

In short, the successful businesses and enterprises of the future will be those willing to adapt to the changing times. This could mean something as little as charging a small fee for search engine usage or even paying to participate on social media.

Recognize more empowering ways to monetize our data. 

The power balance, as it currently stands, is unsustainable. A small minority of companies make a considerable profit on the data of others be it from businesses or individuals. What’s worse is that ineffective cybersecurity routinely subjects people and businesses to harmful exposure and threatens everything from personal safety to intellectual property.

We need to recognize the importance of data sovereignty for both individuals and businesses. The former cares about the issue from a privacy perspective and the latter, from the perspective of investment. A breach can result in damages on both cost and time but it can also severely impact the organisation from a trust standpoint.  It is not uncommon for consumers to boycott companies after publicized data breaches. Ideally, we need to view future data transactions as a two-way street. The dynamics of power will alter once this assertion of control changes through heightened levels of cyber security. Companies must also repair damaged public perceptions and safeguard their organisations against future losses once they have reestablished control of their security through more stringent digital defenses.