Personal Data in the Crosshairs
All technology is, by itself, neutral. However, its impact depends on how individuals and companies use it. As such, while big data—being a result of technology—is considered neutral, how companies handle it will ultimately determine whether or not a breach will take place.
That being said, big data increases the risk of security and privacy issues, particularly in the context of social media. Data mined from social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter hold diverse personal information on users. Ethical lapses in information mining can expose millions of personal data to unscrupulous companies and individuals.
According to a 2018 Cyber Threatscape Report published by the management consulting firm Accenture, “cyber adversaries have slowly shifted their attack patterns to exploiting third- and fourth-party supply chain partner environments to gain entry to target systems.”
For example, seemingly harmless casual games on social media, which can typically access one’s public profile, have been found to mine user data and send them to multiple external servers. Information, which organizations share with suppliers and contractors (like outsourced data managers and knowledge specialists) also remain vulnerable, especially if the concerned parties do not have stringent data sharing and non-disclosure agreement.
Strengthening Big Data Defenses
The public already recognizes the need for more explicit and comprehensive laws that companies, governments, and individuals can adopt into a code of conduct so that, even in the aftermath of security and data breaches, people would still have rights over their own information.
Nonetheless, big data’s inherent vulnerabilities should not keep companies from fully maximizing their business potential. But neither should blindness to the risks rule the day. Big data users must first recognize the vulnerabilities that come with their information and, thus, take a more proactive approach to big data security.
The goal of big data is, ultimately, to identify and harness useful and usable information in a timely manner. Likewise, the greatest defense against its vulnerabilities is creating a data-driven company culture, one that is constantly fueled by data-based decision-making.