Humanity is going through a stage where personal data has gained a particular value. This statement is what Camilo Gutiérrez, a Cyber Security specialist at ESET advocate.
This year in the United States, companies have invested nearly $20,000 million to obtain personal data for their own interests. Recently, the New York Times (NYT) has revealed that Facebook gave access to people data to third parties.
This revelation comes from documents and interviews with former Facebook employees. The US media managed to gain access to these internal documents. This has revived the debate on privacy and the way in which companies have access to these data.
Personal data has become a raw material whose extraction and analysis is the attention of various organisations. A business capable of moving billions of dollars.
For Camilo Gutiérrez, it is vital that people are aware of the information they share on the Internet. There is no room for Facebook to challenge this unethical distribution of its users’ personal data. However, there is also the fact of how people expose themselves sharing their personal information.
Gutiérrez highlighted that nowadays humanity is living in an era where everything is connected. People do not only generate data in their interaction in social networks. But in most action on the internet. Among many examples, include searches the internet, the channels they watch on TV, and the time spent on their smartphones.
What can you do with my data?
The brightness in the eyes that has awakened the data inside the organisations has at least two intentions. First, economic and secondly political. The interesting thing that both variants can have positive and negative uses.
In March this year, the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg, the head and founder of Facebook to a US court is a clear example. He explained how his platform would have allowed the data of 87 million people to be used by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy. The purpose was to advise Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Personal data can be used with political intentions. For instance, the Colombian enterprise Cultivando Futuro, a technological organisation collects information from thousands of farmers across the country. The prime purpose is to have a more objective view of the industry. Assuming that their databases may indicate that a large percentage of farmers in the country lack efficient irrigation systems, the Ministry of Agriculture could then used the said data to improve their investments in this area.
On the economic side, as detailed by Gutiérrez, organisations use the data generated by people to know them better. Then, they can propose a more accurate offer of products and services. If people, for example, start looking for certain musical trends on the internet. This information could be useful to a label to propose what would be the next success of the year.
The unfortunate aspect of this situation, as stated by NYT, is that the thirst to know its users better is leading to, allegedly, third parties. By violating the privacy of people when reviewing their private conversations.
Another negative aspect of the data boom is the threats that directly endanger the integrity of people. There have been cases where, with social engineering tactics, criminals have managed to defraud their victims.
Criminals can pretend to be a bank to ask their ‘client’ for a ‘data update’. The task ie even easier when they know information such as names, addresses, affiliations to banking entities, age and others. A trap with which they manage to keep the number and password of credit cards.
On the other hand, attacks such as that of the Marriott hotel chain, where the data of nearly 500 million people were exposed, is an opportunity in which criminals can use said information in the Dark Web.
In short, technologies that use data as raw material, such as Big Data and Analytica, have proven to have significant applications for the benefit of humanity. However, the precedences of cases have to lead professionals like Gutiérrez recommending special care with shared information on the internet.