The Internet was invented to share information, but that doesn’t mean all forms of data sharing are acceptable. Ordinary individuals post a wide variety of personal facts online, many of which could do serious damage if they fell into the wrong hands. Yet few users have taken the precautions to control who can see this information, and many rely on digital services that actively spread it to as many parties as possible. As a result, privacy is severely lacking in the modern digital age, putting a wide range of people at risk.
As serious as this privacy issue is, the solution may not be far away. Online platformsare taking advantage of blockchain technology, decentralized storage, and advanced encryption, allowing them to minimize the risk to users’ data. Combined with changing the incentive structure for businesses on the Internet, these platforms have the potential to dramatically improve digital privacy for the long haul.
The Scale & Scope of Privacy Issues
Most Internet users fail to comprehend just how badly their privacy is at risk when they go online. In part, this is because they do not understand all the ways in which seemingly benign data can be misused. As hackers adopt increasingly sophisticated methods and technologies, they to:
- - Smartphones and other devices used to take and post photos have high-resolution cameras, and that resolution gets better each year. As a result, hackers have the ability to look at their targets’ Facebook and Instagram photos, zoom in on their hands, and capture crisp images of their fingerprints. They can then use this data to break into any number of sensitive accounts and applications that use biometric data for authentication.
- - Genealogy sites have allowed users to delve into their families’ pasts, uncovering relatives and ancestors they never knew they had. But not everyone wants these connections to become public knowledge, especially if they learn that they are related to criminals or other unpopular figures. Yet many genealogy sites do little to prevent third parties from learning each user’s data, setting the stage for blackmail and other nefarious activities.
- - Internet users routinely post their phone numbers and home addresses on Facebook, LinkedIn, and a variety of other sites. When outside parties gain access to this data, they can use it for any number of dangerous or irresponsible activities. For example, it has become common for hackers to call the police and report crimes at their targets’ addresses, causing the police to interrogate those individuals even if no crime has occurred.
In addition to the sheer amount and variety of data that people post online, privacy is undermined by the nature of modern digital storage. Users increasingly rely on cloud storage, meaning they hand their data over to a professional data storage and management company. But such companies tend to store this information on centralized servers. This allows hackers who break into those servers to gain an enormous amount of potentially valuable information with a single attack. As a result, large numbers of hackers regularly try to break into cloud servers, raising the risk that someone will succeed.
Besides centralized storage, privacy is also undermined by the financial incentives facing many modern digital businesses. Companies like Facebook and Skype make much of their revenues by selling information to advertisers, who use it to plan marketing campaigns aimed at their users. But this directly allows outside parties to learn every manner of secret or sensitive fact about those users. It also raises the risk that hackers will gain access to this information, as many advertisers do not adequately protect their marketing data. As long as digital companies rely on advertising for their revenues, user data will never be fully secure.
Cutting-Edge Solutions to Privacy Threats
As serious and widespread as these privacy problems are, digital innovators are hard at work finding workable solutions. Companies like FortKnoxster have already made promising advances in information security by taking advantage of:
- - Blockchains are a that rely on linking together multiple pieces of information into a single chain. If any one part of that chain changes, all of the other pieces are altered along with it. This makes it much harder for hackers to break into and alter users’ data.
- - Blockchain technology is heavily tied to decentralized methods of data storage, which involve storing different parts of the chain across multiple servers rather than relying on a single server in a centralized location. Decentralization makes it harder for hackers to know where they can find and steal user data. It also reduces the total amount of information that they can steal from any one attack. As a result, hackers will not be able to profit as much from breaking into any particular digital server, making them less likely to undertake the risk and effort necessary to do so.
- - By providing a secure method for storing value, blockchain technology has made it easier than ever to develop digital currencies. Digital service platforms can thus make money by, which are tradable on international markets and increase in value as the platforms becomes more popular. As a result, online providers have no incentive to sell user data to advertisers, but every incentive to keep such data as safe as possible in order to bolster their popularity.
Online security is still a work in progress, but digital platforms have made great strides toward shoring up users’ privacy. By taking advantage of advances made by and other innovators, consumers can use the Internet securely and confidently.