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‘Designing out’ cyber threats to businesses and personal data


Camera and Microphone covered with tape, email client is Thunderbird

That’s the message received from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to highlight DataPrivacyDay and DataProtectionDay, noting that 40 per cent of UK businesses have experienced a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months. They announced that to help implement more security in our everyday activities the tax-payer is to come up with £70 million towards designing out many forms of cyber threats with a further £30million to focus on ‘smart devices’.

In our B2B environment there are many threats being introduced that hinder this way forward. Most people will be aware of Cambridge Analytica. The Guardian Newspaper first published the scandal around the use of Facebook private data for political ends. How did Facebook get this data? In a nutshell people genuinely were led to believe they were contributing to something else. Forgetting or more likely not knowingly, as they were caught up in the moment, what was actually going on.

Yet still today after such a high-profile news item, the data harvester still gets fed and believe it or not it gets fed by us in the Fenestration Industry. Not us I hear you cry - are you sure? It may surprise some, particularly those that know their friends personally and have never been on or near Face-book, that they have a Facebook profile. Simply put, a website, a colleague, a business partner has let Facebook into your world.

I am not sure whether it is a desire to be ‘down with the kids’ or lack of curtesy and decency, but a great number of websites just because you take a look at them, make it compulsory that Facebook along with others place data harvesting and tracking cookies on your devices. No permission, no warning, just an undocumented condition, so your personal data profile is built. In our B2B world where everyone knows everyone else is this a business-like attitude?

There are numerous examples of data collection similar to above that have crept in to our daily life that are moving the connected world away from being an effective and efficient tool onto something straight out of 1984. With Android phones, smart TV’s, PC’s, video door bells, smart meters it’s an endless onslaught of data collection followed up with what is more damaging – the collation of data. Everyone knows when you are on holiday as your phone has left the house, your TV is not on and your heating thermostat is turned down, information given by you to others, others you don’t know. Why is it essential for others to have your personal information to hand, how will they collate it and use it.

Data collection without a purpose – pull the other one.

As noted by Government, consumers are often the worst affected by mass information leaks than the organisation that held their data.

So, ask yourself why are organisations interested in my personal life. Then ask why is Mark Zuckerberg famously shown in front of his laptop with tape on the camera and microphone along with Thunderbird as his email client, could be he takes his privacy seriously. Then ask why is it said Google executives in the UK don’t have their homes shown on Street View. The appearance is it is one rule for the collectors and a sperate rule for those that become the commodity.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects you personally? Not really, because elsewhere within it and the Privacy Statement it says – to paraphrase ‘we let others in, we might not tell you, but as we have no control over what they do with your data - tough’. Cookie blocking, Do-Not-Track all wonderful things to keep us private just don’t work in these situations, look deeper into the third-parties T&C’s and they state these requests are ignored. For all its intended purpose GDPR legitimises what is to most at very least poor taste, insulting behaviour and takes us a long way from what we thought to be going on.

Sir Tim Berners Lee the man accredited with inventing the internet along with other influential organisations is concerned that the activities of Facebook, Google, Amazon and many others are killing the Web. To this end they have launched ‘Solid POD’ in an attempt to return the Web to the people. The Government is also concerned that the constant facilitation of data collection and tracking is becoming an abuse, so is looking for technical ways to protect us. Shouldn’t we all be committed to stemming the flow first ourselves?

Of others you have to ask why the lack of transparency, why the subterfuge, what’s the hidden agenda?

Given nearly all UK businesses are reliant on digital technology and online services, we all have a part to play by encouraging transparency and to start highlighting transgressions or this thing we call the internet will lose its ability to function as users would like.

The former FBI Director James Comey said he placed some tape on his laptop after he saw "somebody smarter" with a taped-up camera, says it all.



News title: -    ‘Designing out’ cyber threats to businesses and personal data
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