Security: The Weakest Human Link

by Jay Deragon on 11/01/2010

Wikileaks has been all over the headlines fueling debates over cyber-security. Then there are ongoing discussions about on-line privacy and what it means or doesn’t mean for the human network. Add to this the debate about transparency and we have a global discussion of how to protect the rights of individuals and institutions to securely manage digital information.

The explosive growth of consumer interaction on and off the web produces billions upon billions of data pools every hour of every day of the year. This data pool is emerging into valuable information about market behavior, consumer preferences and human interaction. Human interaction creates data that provides information that others use to create knowledge for sale which then fuels innovation. Innovation then creates increased human interactions.

The War around Security of the Human Network

Prior to the growth of the internet and social technology data about the human network was limited. The limitations were centric to data generated by human interaction. Now the limitations have been lifted as more and more people generate data from use of technology on-line and off line. Every type of human interactions creates pools of data from mobile devices to social networks and related tools of communications.

Facebook built an interactive platform that enables people to share, connect, learn, play and collaborate around common interest issues for free. Their platform design, functions and features, has attracted over 550 million people. Every persons profile and activity represents relevant data for marketers and advertisers to match up with buyer’s likely intents. Marketers and advertisers spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year try to attract people. Facebook then opens up to third party developers who build applications and games to future enhances user experiences which then drives more data that indicates a “profile of interest and intents“. Facebook then sells the data back to marketers and advertisers to use in designing their offerings to relevant audiences.   In essence Facebook leverages our individual profiles and third party developers (assets) to create and sell the related data to eager marketers. While Facebook has had “user privacy policies” they change these policies as often as we change our underwear. Do we really think our data is secure with Facebook? Remember Facebook has enough users to represent the third largest country in the worlds. That is a lot of data that no other country has on their citizens.

Remember Google Street View vehicles that were accessing wifi info as they drove by? The awareness of this practice hasn’t stopped them from continuing to collect wifi data.

This time an internal Google employee (allegedly) used his position to (allegedly) access four teenager’s (female and male) accounts FOR MONTHS before the teenagers’ parents contacted Google. Google had no idea what their own employee was doing. Do we think our data is secure with Google?

How about our mobile interactions with others and the entire marketplace?  Right now, if you visit a web page and load a simple PDF file, you may give total control of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to a hacker. The security bug affects all devices running Apple  iOS software. Consider this. Apple is now bigger than Microsoft, and the iPhone is now bigger than Rim. That is a lot of user centric data floating across the internet and mobile networks. Do you think your data is secure with Apple?

These examples are the data game afforded by the introduction of social technology that engages the human network. Facebook, Google, Apple and others know that data represents significant economic value and when the human network volunteers their data that represents a “free supply” of valuable assets that can be used and sold to a world of suppliers wanting to reach the human network to sell them something, anything and everything.

Worst yet is that all this free supply of data represents opportunities for the weakest human link, those who want to use our data against us, to manipulate and control us and more importantly to access our currency for their use not ours. The human network is only as strong as the weakest link. There are a lot of weak links looking to break the human network of its worth.

{ 1 comment }

Daniel Rose November 1, 2010 at 5:49 am

You’re totally correct. Human’s are fallible, and are also perhaps the element of security that is overlooked most often.

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