Data Security: How Facebook’s Fallout Could Be Blockchain’s Gain

Since the rise of the Internet, users have feared security threats that lie in the shadows, ready to destroy their privacy. As technology is advancing, the increasing number of fraud cases, hacking and unauthorized access of personnel data poses a significant risk that alarms people and businesses everywhere.

The Facebook Scandal

Recently it was revealed that Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked for the Trump campaign. This violation highlighted the fear of having personal, sensitive data in the hands of the wrong people. The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica news demonstrated the power that this type of data can have when we lose control of it. Some even assume that the breach affected the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote. To top it all off, Facebook is not the only company to have suffered this sort of breach.

How Europe Is Helping the Internet?

Many would agree that it is time for a change when it comes to the processes governing the collection and maintenance of such data. The EU has already taken steps in the right direction by introducing the General Data Protection Regulation that focuses on ensuring that users know, understand and consent to the data collected about them. It will become enforceable from 25 May 2018. Yet, despite the significant impact of collection practices in even the smallest businesses around Europe, these regulations still fall light years short of the comprehensive change in mind-set needed to safeguard our privacy — and, potentially, the integrity of future elections.

An Outpour of Sensitive Data

Consider the number of times you have entered your home address, phone number, birthdate and credit card information into a website. When social media exploded in popularity, sharing private information — including personal images, live locations and experiences, became the norm as people live out a large chunk of their lives online. They tend to forget that a sea of people have access to that personal information that they would never have disclosed, for instance, in a brick and mortar store.

What Can Blockchain Do for You?

With these rising concerns, people are on the lookout for alternative solutions, with Blockchain seen as a potential solution. One of the main reasons is because Blockchain is a distributed ledger system where information is stored in an infinite number of places. Therefore, rather than handing over sensitive information to various platforms online, the information is stored in a decentralized ledger instead. This means there is more control over what information is shared, with whom, if we connect the Blockchain technology to existing payment systems and platforms, and combine it with biometric security features on our digital devices.

“Big tech and the centralized control isn’t working. This is why distributed ledger technology is taking off.” — Susan Och

Some still question, if data is stored everywhere, how can it be private? Researchers are looking to tackle this issue through a protocol that sits on top existing Blockchains. They promise “secret contracts” — that are similar to the well-known “smart contracts” — with nodes on the Blockchain that can process data without “seeing” it. The researchers say this will allow users to maintain control over personal data, particularly through preventing its monetisation or analysis by platforms. They also claim that it could unlock a new system of lending, in which prospective borrowers can establish their trustworthiness without having to give individual lenders access to their specific personal data.

Banks, government agencies and companies around the world have begun to adopt these Blockchain techniques. There is significant work being done to shift the focus of Blockchain technology towards real world applications — especially around privacy and storage. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have proven that our management of data is inefficient and poorly secured; Blockchain might just be what we need.

Data Security: How Facebook’s Fallout Could Be Blockchain’s Gain was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.