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DataScan: Issue #47

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How can decentralised storage models prevent massive data breaches? Is India's biometric database a m
 

DataScan

September 11 · Issue #47 · View online
Curated digest on the world of data.

How can decentralised storage models prevent massive data breaches? Is India’s biometric database a massive achievement or a dystopian nightmare? Can blockchain technology transform the security industry?
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How can decentralised storage models prevent massive data breaches? The Equifax hack has been cited as very possibly the worst leak of personal info ever due to the “breath-taking amount of highly sensitive data it handed over to criminals”. As a consequence, “more than half of all US residents who rely the most on bank loans and credit cards” will be at a “significantly higher risk of fraud” for years to come. 😱 
Writing for The Guardian, Jathan Sadowski provides an EXCELLENT overview of the “fundamental problem of the data economy as a whole: databanks like Equifax are too big”:
As epic as Equifax’s hack was, things can get a lot worse. The credit reporting agencies Experian and TransUnion are data giants on par with Equifax and there are thousands of other data brokers that also possess large databanks.

Data breaches like this one are not bugs, but rather features of a system that centralises immense amounts of valuable personal data in one place.
Sadowski continues:
The vaults of these databanks are impossible to secure, in large part, because the wealth of information they hold is a beacon for hackers. Even the most impenetrable cybersecurity will eventually fail under the pressure of dogged hackers probing for weaknesses to exploit. Better cybersecurity is important, but it is not a solution. It only postpones catastrophic failure.
KEY TAKEAWAY 🔮 - The future of data storage is decentralised models and the US needs to introduce stronger data protection laws - Equifax would have be fined 4% of global annual turnover under the GDPR. 💸 This is a breach no one should get away with
Is India’s biometric database a massive achievement or a dystopian nightmare? ⚖ Writing for VICE News, David Gilbert explores India’s controversial Aadhaar database which sought to give an identity to the 400 million people in India which “did not exist in the eyes of the government”. 👀  However:
What is emerging is that [Aadhaar] is being used to create a panopticon, a centralised database that’s linked to every aspect of our lives — finances, travel, birth, deaths, marriage, education, employment, health, etc.
Recently, the Indian government have also been granting private companies access to the system:
Microsoft, for example, already taps into the database to confirm the identity of people using a version of Skype designed specifically for the Indian market. And Airbnb confirmed to VICE News that it is looking into Aadhaar as a potential option for verifying hosts.
This move has been heavily criticised for increasing the government’s spying abilities and for letting “private companies profit off valuable personal information”. 🙀
CRUCIALLY, Gilbert emphasises how Aadhaar will be hacked - it’s just a matter of time. ⏰ The government insists the data centre is “robust and uncompromised”, but, similarly to Equifax, by “putting an entire country’s information in one place, they’ve made one massive target for hackers”. 🙈
Side note - intriguing article by Ron Miller examining the “promise of managing identity on the blockchain”. ✅
Can blockchain technology transform the security industry? ⚔ Charlie Osborne discusses how, if implemented correctly, decentralised technology can improve security solutions - as there is “no central holding system”:
In an age when trust in systems is critical, we may yet see the blockchain integrated into systems which handle sensitive data and financial transactions, or control IoT and mobile devices.

The technology may also provide a trustworthy infrastructure for vendors to better retain control of enterprise networks, who does what on them, and as a means to tackle weak spots in security protocols.
Miscellaneous
🙌  Cognitive Logic has rebranded to InfoSum - check out our new site.
💰  Inside the store that only accepts personal data as currency
📊  How to spot visualisation lies.
🚊  London underground wifi tracking - neat report. 
🤖  Facebook AI learns human reactions after watching hours of Skype.
🏥  DeepMind: Working towards a Verifiable Data Audit to build trust. 
✨  Visualising halt times of passenger trains at stations in Mumbai:
by Manasi Mankad
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