We hear personal, private information all the time. When we’re driving we hear cars honk at each other. When we’re walking on the street we hear other folks on their phones. When out for a jog, we wave at joggers going the other way. All these interactions and connections are personal. And they all contain data about other people, data that – until now – was mostly lost in the shuffle of everyday life.
But now, with smartphones and connected cars and find-my-friends and remote home and business management, there’s more data about more stuff we do, say, and think about than ever before. All this information is up in the cloud, structured in thousands of different ways, but all waiting to be accessed, sorted, and applied. Is someone ready to buy a car? A coffee? Are they vulnerable to a disease? Or to a hacking attempt? Data has become the most valuable resource in the world.
Source: Kleiner Perkins
So when Facebook gets hacked or our privacy settings are reset by a system update or we’re targeted in a phishing attack it’s not just an annoyance. The vast pools of information that cyber-criminals steal have become an economic resource. Google can see what we search for, Amazon sees what we buy, and Facebook knows what we share and “like.” These data giants have an eagle’s-eye view of the world: they don’t just observe the broad landscape; their eyes allow them to watch a mouse moving across a field. Data hacks are like Lex Luther stealing Superman’s x-ray vision.
Photo: Richard Bartz. Source: Wikimedia
The old rule-of-thumb used to be that when you don’t pay for a product, you’re the product. “Free” television was free to the viewers because the networks ran ads. But today everyone wants our data, data that allows their predictive algos to run more effectively and efficiently. We’re all the product, now.
Benjamin Franklin once said that two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead. Increasingly, there aren’t any secrets, because the databases never die. We need to be ready for a world of complete transparency.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”