Data is something we have flippantly given away to brands, governments, and strangers, but now its real value is becoming obvious.
Many of the major tech companies have found their megaprofits in trading us (regular internet users identities) as their products. We will inevitably have to reverse this model to give the power back to the people.
With every action, there is almost always an equal digital reaction. Millions of times a day our devices leave breadcrumbs of data on random servers we scarcely know anything about. This data ranges from things like searching for the time of our next arriving train, to learning how to order an espresso in French, to the text message you send to your boss telling her you’re running late.
Almost everything we do leaves a digital footprint which can be commercialised by the people that capture it.
This is what has fueled the familiar phrase, ‘Big Data’. There is an unfathomable amount of data out there, so much so that most of us don’t quite know what to do with it. But those few that do collect and calculate it are the ones worth billions.
It is literally the new gold rush, but this time we are building websites, apps, fridges and electric cars that capture data about us. Modern society embraces this new tech, which is mostly offered for ‘free’ (at least, there is no ‘upfront’ cash payment). As a whole, society is ignorant of the real cost of giving up our personal data. Facebook made a reported $20 US per user in 2017, proving our everyday ‘social data’ is worth a fortune.
As a result, protecting our digital identities, and keeping this valuable data safe, is big business. With 3.5 million new jobs predicted by 2021, the commoditisation of data is spawning unprecedented growth in the cyber security industry.
Security was once exclusively trusted to established organisations and institutions, but now, we are seeing the beginnings of a revolution. Banks, companies and governments are losing grip on the trust they once commandeered. We are seeing the start of the ‘Open Era’, where now peer-to-peer structures and marketplaces rule the internet.
The Blockchain is the catalyst that will create an autonomous global marketplace, where everyone trusts everyone. It will allow us to buy and sell directly with suppliers around the world, save our money on our own terms (not the bank’s), and apply for citizenship and get approved by the citizens, not the white collar luddites in the government office.
The beginning of Blockchain
It wasn’t that long ago we were all terrified of putting our credit card details on ‘the internet’. We slowly earned the trust of our banks online, PayPal, and Stripe, but now we are seeing the potential of an easier, faster and cheaper way to trade and transact thanks to the Blockchain. It is an irrefutable ledger, storing the details of the who, what, when and how of any transaction. What makes it truly special is its structure - completely decentralised and open. By the people, for the people.
Coding in Cryptography
An entire new language is developing, and its sole purpose is to NOT communicate a message. The same methods made famous by the military are being used to code and decode this valuable data to keep it protected.
The leap-frogging emerging markets
The West continues to adopt technology at an unprecedented rate. The wealth of our economies allows us to afford the latest computers, phones and smart devices. But, it turns out this could have been a bad thing for us. Emerging markets, in particular, Africa, has an advantage by NOT being the early adopters. They have skipped the whole ‘credit card era’, and let us, first-world countries, go through that. Instead, some African countries went straight to adopting a network built on simple smart phones. Now, the currency is phone credits, able to be bought in virtual packets from dealers in shops and on street corners.
Data as a currency
Knowing what people want, where they go, and who they are connected to is big business. If you can capture this data about people, you can sell it many times over.
The little espresso is enough coffee to give Tess her bounce for the last few hours of the afternoon. She glances at her watch to see it is almost 3pm.
“It’s time for your 3 o’clock, Tess” alerts Jay from the speakers on her desk. Tess feels somewhat proud of herself that she looked at the clock before her AI, Jay could remind her. The efficacy of Jay has completely removed the need for her to manage her day. Tess now has the headspace to think about bigger things, like building clients relationships and longer term planning.
“Amanda, the candidate for the Chief Security Officer is waiting in reception for her interview. She is the one that comes highly regarded; previously working with Kmart, and then most recently, BlockBank”.
“Excellent, so she knows her way around Blockchain. It’s time we got 100% of our clients over, enough is enough with the old web”. With a subtle nod, Tess signals for Jay to tell her to come on up.
This kind of role was once regarded as ‘IT’, but now is a key part of every Management Group, and is a pivotal part of every strategic decision. Not a single company would consider not bolstering up its local and global security efforts. There is a story in the press almost every week about a billion dollar company brought to its knees overnight from a data breach. Most of the time it is data theft, but other cases can be sabotage or even a straight up ‘corporation homicide’. Hacking has become big business, and so protecting it is a case of ‘at whatever cost’.
“Amanda, please come in. It is wonderful to meet you in person, did Jay get you a coffee?”
“Hi Tess, yes he did, thanks. How are you?”.
Tess is immediately distracted by the glowing red light on her desk. The light signals to her Jay has a critical message. Very rarely does she see a red light, meaning something is really wrong. Even orange is irregular, and is cause for an immediate response.
“Sorry Amanda - Jay, what is it?”
“It’s Brightspark. There is a 98% chance there has been a breach. An admin login was duplicated, and it looks like they’re copying across customer data. It appears the encryption is still intact, but the data is leaving our network, ” Jay voiceovers as the display on Tess’s screen gives an overview of the breach in real time.
Brightspark is a knowledge marketplace for consumers to learn and teach almost anything. It is the new way to learn, and the model has been replicated many times, almost entirely replacing formal education.
If the Brightspark data is compromised, the client is liable for millions of dollars in fines, but most importantly, it will be a mark on their security rating record indefinitely, as the Blockchain will record it for future customers to see for the rest of time.
“Tess” interjects Amanda, the CSO candidate, “where do you keep the encryption key?”.
“It is stored in headquarters in Sydney, why do you ask?” responds Tess.
“Re-coding a new encryption and then getting the key on the blockchain is the fastest way to eliminate the threat.”
Tess looks at her, with a face that says ‘it can’t be that simple’. But, the Blockchain never ceases to surprise her with its simplicity and power.
Later that afternoon, Amanda was offered, and accepted, the job. If it wasn’t for her, it may have been a different outcome for Brightspark - and for Tess.
Brightspark has since tripled in size since shifting the platform onto the Blockchain. All content is now accessible by a secure key which is easily distributed, and all tutors and content is authenticated with a history of totally authentic reviews and career notes.
The growth can also be attributed to a major a investment in the ‘Customer Direct’ marketing model. They chose to shift their traditional media budget to the Customer Direct - spending the entire budget on the online customer reward platform intentmarket.com.
This is a major evolution in marketing. Instead of brands bidding for attention in search, they can bid directly to customers who are ready to buy. You offer a bonus payment for anyone who shows intent for wanting to pay for a tutor, or join a class. The payment goes directly to the customer, instead of the search companies.
It is a simple system, because it benefits the customer first, which is central to how this new world works.
Short Term Tactics
Ensure you have good password hygiene. The most common hack is via weak passwords.
Ensure you and your client have 2-factor authentication on access to all digital assets and logins. Use a password managing service such as 1password to dramatically reduce your risk of hacks.Go to 1password
Understand how Blockchain works by setting up a Crypto Wallet and buy some currency. It doesn’t have to be much, it is about the process.Go to coinbase.com
Set up Google Alerts for topics that cover how governments and corporations are trying to catch up to privacy laws; ‘ATO Cryptocurrency’, ‘Privacy Laws Australia’, etc.
Long Term Tactics
Pay close attention to emerging markets and how they are leapfrogging the Western World’s adoption of new technologies. Entire African countries are powered by mobile in cashless societies, giving a glimpse into our economic destiny.
Build a network of Security Consultants. You can browse the available ‘rock stars’ on the big platforms such as Upwork.Go to Upwork.com
Start to view security as a core business skill of the future.
Attend 1 security-focused event per annum to upskill in this arena.