The Edward Snowden revelations was a turning point for the entire world after June 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked on purpose thousands of documents to that were considered as the “the biggest intelligence leak in history”. The crux of the revelations revolved around how intelligence components of the government such as the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States and the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom were actively spying on regular people both at home and abroad.
The fact that we have arrived to the age of data is stark and evident and as much as information builds and nurtures humanity towards better lives, it also wreaks havoc on us by disrupting routine to a point where policies change, privacy is undermined and paranoia plays tic-tac-toe with fear. Even prominent figures of authority are not sparred, from Hillary Clinton’s emails and the tainted US presidential elections that saw Trump come into power to the cyber-attack carried out on Aaron Barr by The hacktivist group Anonymous.
To rub salt into the wound Aaron Barr was the CEO of computer security firm HBGary Federal. The expose and contents of his emails led to his resignation weeks later. If the CEO of a computer security firm is not safe, where does the average ordinary person stand? The iCloud Hack perpetrated against more than 100 celebrities that exposed hundreds of embarrassing photos of these celebrities is another example of just how safe data stored on remote servers are.
Regardless of the fact of how these attacks were orchestrated, whether by brute force which involves trying the most common passwords for targeted accounts until the right password is found or via technical hack protocols, the fact is that nobody who takes cyber-security for granted is safe.
These ‘hacks’ or cyber ‘breaches’ have basically forced the entire world to take a step back and look at these incidents with a renewed perspective and ask the relevant questions that nobody is prepared to answer. How are we affected, how does this impact large corporations and governments, where do we go from here, are the governments and relevant agencies actually responsible for these hacks due to their insistence that ‘backdoors’ are compulsory?
Albeit, the majority of hacks are conducted for the purpose of fraud and monetary gains by hackers who look for financial details of individuals who make transactions via online servers despite the stringent defence and security measures installed.
Some of these ‘cyber intrusions’ are detected, but go unreported as large corporations fear the impact that such reports might have on the consumer’s confidence in their brand and governments are usually even more reluctant to talk about the security breaches they suffer due to the nature of the data stolen or the ethical conduct of governmental agencies in collecting sensitive data, that actually go against the rights to our privacy.
To make matters worse, the recent rise of cloud computing services such as Dropbox, Google drive and others are basically exposing individuals and businesses to a variety of new risks. The user friendly characteristics of Dropbox and Google Drive gives the impression that data stored “in the cloud” is secure when in fact, the opposite holds true.
The data stored in the ‘cloud’ is not a ‘nimbus cloud’ floating somewhere over the pacific undetected, the data is actually stored in a physical location in a hard disk in a server in a room that does not even have a security guard in probably one of the world’s riskiest locations.
The best part is that most individuals and businesses have not the faintest idea on the location of their data. Based on the findings of independent data experts who decided to identify the safest and as well as the riskiest data locations involving not just multiple data sources, but also more than 3 trillion IP addresses towards developing a data privacy security risk map, 33% of the tested IP addresses are registered in countries that are deemed as unsafe!
The survey also revealed that Switzerland and Singapore are among the safest nations to store data mainly attributed to their independent privacy legislation and political stability.
Data privacy is an issue that needs to be completely de-constructed and reconstructed from ‘all’ perspectives if it is to move forward as the current ‘Band-Aid’ remedies is only leading the entire world into a situation where the outcome will not only be uncomfortable, but devastating to individuals, corporations and entire nations.