Reimagining How We Protect our Digital Data | Geeks Geezers Googlization
Reimagining How We Protect our Digital Data
An Interview with Dennis Hill
WHAT TO EXPECT
Data security is more important now than it ever has been. Hackers have bigger and better computers and techniques, we have put more information on the web than ever before, and on top of that, we are still dealing with the same problems we had when computing first took off!
However, most of the ways we try to create security today are simply ways to treat the symptoms. Nothing gets to the root cause, which Dennis Hill believes is centralized data storage. He proposes building decentralized data storage architecture, supported by blockchain and 5G and backed by laws, to finally take back our data. To support this, he has developed the first blockchain-based data security app called Family Organizer Plus, which is launching on Indiegogo this month.
SEGMENT #1 — DENNIS HILL
Our data is scattered all over the web, and we continue to give it away. Internet accounts, smart home technology, hospitals, and many other everyday things require our personal information. Even getting the COVID vaccine requires surrendering some personal data. However, Dennis Hill believes that since all of this data is stored in a few centralized computers, we are exposing ourselves to massive vulnerability.
Dennis is a pioneer in computer science who served as the inaugural chairperson of one of the first accredited computer science programs in the country. Since then, he has spent his life working with businesses to integrate systems and get things done more efficiently. This pursuit necessarily requires a commitment to security as well.
SEGMENT #2 — AHEAD OF THE CURVE with Joyce Gioia
Today on Ahead of the Curve, we are talking about recognition. How can we do recognition right in Normal 2.0?
[10:33] “Companies will not invest in security except in knee-jerk response to catastrophe.”
[13:46] “What blockchain does is that it takes a decentralized approach to your data.”
[15:10] “The laws have finally caught up to say that your data belongs to you.”
[15:56] “The reality is that in order to own your data you need a tool to own it.”
[19:40] “What the pandemic has actually done is it has accelerated technologies. Everybody’s doing Zoom today.”
[21:43] “This Internet of Things cannot be separated from the Internet of People.”
[22:14] “We can put the data genie back in the bottle now that we have technology to ensure its privacy.”
[27:48] “You can’t protect yourself from the unscrupulous use of your data by authorized people.”
[28:39] “You can’t execute enough protection today to prevent infection.”
Security: The eternal issue [8:55]
Security has been an important part of computing since the very beginning, and we have many of the same problems today that we had at the beginning of the age of computers. For instance, Dennis led a group of students to infiltrate a hacking group called The 414s who mainly attacked companies through insecure passwords.
The symptoms of cyberattacks have not changed. The truth of security is simply that companies and individuals will not invest in it except as a reaction to catastrophe. Thankfully, Dennis says that there are some exciting new technologies to help keep us safe, even if we take security for granted.
Most people don’t think twice about security when using cell phones or just doing day to day activities. There are some solutions out there like virtual private networks, malware checks, and virus protection software, but all of these just treat the symptoms. The real problem is that all our data is contained in central computers.
Decentralizing data storage [11:36]
Every day in 2019 a hospital’s data was breached, and that number went up in 2020. Individual identity theft occurs every 30–45 seconds. Dennis believes that insecurity happens on this scale primarily because of widespread use of central storage of data.
Banks and lawyers are already catching up on a new technology to help decentralize data storage: blockchain. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain, but the potential of the technology for security applications are just as promising as the currencies.
Transactions made in blockchain are immutable, meaning that once they are made they cannot be changed. A transaction in Bitcoin, once made, can never be changed. Similarly, a vote cast through a blockchain platform can never be changed.
Blockchain works by taking data and chopping it up into billions of pieces. A single piece of data may be so small that it may not constitute even a single character. The chance of a hacker decrypting that single block is 1 in 15 trillion. Not even the most advanced computers have a chance of breaking into that security.
But how is blockchain decentralized? Each piece of data can be scattered across nodes all across the Internet. This is a completely different architecture and might indicate a new era of cybersecurity.
Individual data security [15:10]
Laws have finally caught up to protect this important truth: Your data belongs to you. But in order to own your data, you must have a tool that lets you own it. As these tools are developed, there must be a network architecture that prioritizes security.
Part of this architecture is blockchain, but the other part is hardware that has security protocols built in. This means we need hardware that authenticates users and authorizes access to data, rather than relying on this happening in the software.
One emerging technology that will help with this is 5G, which will provide a totally new way for online communications to function. This will replace what we have built the PC industry on for the past 45 years, which is a system built on protocols first used during World War 2. We don’t all need VPN’s, but we do all need 5G.
The pandemic and cybersecurity [19:40]
The pandemic has created a kind of time compression where people are using technologies that we would not have expected to catch on for another 20–30 years. People are not only adapting to technology much more quickly than expected, but are even becoming dependent on it.
We are in a world where technology can control nearly every area of our lives and even make parts of our lives much better. However, this comes at the cost of spreading our data out far and wide. We can’t let the Internet of Things hurt the Internet of People.
Now that laws have caught up, we can retroactively scrub our data from institutions that hold on to it and have them help us track down where else our data is.
The future of security [24:27]
Many large corporations like Amazon hold on to massive amounts of centralized data. They have begun to adapt to the insecure cyber world by creating their own blockchain solutions, but the problem is that these solutions do not always work well together.
The International Association for Human Resource Information Management is working to establish a consortium of employers to create standards to ensure that shared HR data will be able to work together. This will help employers in cases like verifying employees have had the COVID19 vaccination.
The future of data based on blockchain will look radically different. Employers will be able to query a centralized database for any number of data points and get nearly immediate results. Additionally, the subject of the search will be notified of the search and be able to accept or reject the request.
This is very different from today, where these searches happen all the time with no notice to the subject.
What can we do today? [27:38]
Every one of us has huge amounts of data on the web. Losing your data may not be the result of a high-profile hack, but some insecurity from one of the countless small sites you may have used throughout your life.
However, even with the best security, there’s no way to protect against the use of your data by authorized people. That is why Dennis believes the only solution is to have your data stored on your own personal database. Innovations like 5G and blockchain will make this much easier in the near future.
Until these revolutions take place, we just have to continue treating the symptoms. This includes using a VPN and a firewall, daily virus and malware scans, and every other security measure we have. This doesn’t fix the real problem, but it is the best we can do today.
Dennis’s app, Family Organizer Plus, is launching on Indiegogo this month and offers the first blockchain-based data protection service. It also has a process you can follow to reclaim your data.
Ahead of the Curve: Normal 2.0 [37:06]
Today on Ahead of the Curve, we are talking about recognition. How can we do recognition right in normal 2.0?
Bonuses are very important. They are motivating and, in many cases, they are even expected. But the timing of bonuses is extremely important. If you give an employee a bonus at the beginning of the year, they might feel the recognition of that bonus for a few months. But how can we use bonuses to motivate and value employees even more?
Joyce recommends giving the employee’s bonus to the people that report to that employee so they can distribute the bonus throughout the year. This gives the financial reward of receiving money throughout the year, but also gives the social bonus of giving and receiving gratitude. It can create a culture of gratitude that can be more rewarding than the bonus itself.
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