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Internet privacy of the future – what’s the way ahead?

55% of the world’s population is online, which means 3.2 billion people have an online presence. Whether that is through email, on a social network, a market place, or a financial institution, we are all sharing data online. As we interact on various online platforms, we end up sharing private data.

The question is how safe is this data that we share? If you have a telephone number online, a name, a bank account, credit card numbers, and even photos, how do you know they are not being used to steal your identity?

Better yet, do you know how your data is being used online?

The Numbers

In recent years, there have been numerous reports of data breaches. And although 2019 is still young, the first data breach happened barely 24 hours into the New Year. In 2018 alone, millions of records worth billions of dollars were stolen all over the internet.

Although most companies are not clear about breaches when they are hit, records show that millions of user records are lost each year. In 2014, Target was hacked and 40 million users had their payment card details stolen.

Software giants have also not been left behind with the likes of Adobe losing credentials of at least 33 million users. However, that is barely scratching the surface of how prevalent data breaches are and the number of affected individuals.

As far back as 2016, more than 90% of businesses had fallen victim to a cyber-attack. In the same year, 15.4 million people in America had their identity stolen. In terms of attacks, there are 4,000 daily cyber-attacks and these affects over 17% of the global population. As the number grows, what can we expect to happen to the future of our internet privacy and security?

The Problem

The biggest hindrance to fighting cybercrime is that it’s on a global scale. Most cyber-attacks spread across continents, compounding the difficulty of trying to solve the crimes.

Often, domestic and international authorities lack cooperation. According to a UN report, of all cybercrimes, 70% are international and only about 50% of countries across the world have any legal framework to criminalize international cyber-attacks.

An even bigger problem is that most hacks and data breaches are stealth and obscured. In other words, it has become increasingly difficult for users to realize they have been hacked as hackers get even smarter.

Additionally, it is virtually impossible for a user to determine which method was used to steal their data:

  • Phone Scam
  • ATM machine card skimmers
  • Mail theft
  • Hacking
  • Eavesdropping

The Future of Internet Privacy

Part of the problem that data breaches have been so prevalent and affected so many people is centralization. For the longest time, we have shared data over the internet with different service providers for seemingly ‘free services’.

This has been done with the belief and trust that these centralized service providers would store the data safely. Facebook and Google are some of the companies that collect billions of user data. However, it has come out that these same companies don’t really protect our data as we might want.

For Facebook, records show that they have been sharing personal user data with other tech giants without users’ approval.

So, what is the solution?

Blockchains decentralized technology has shown the potential to solve this problem.

Some global tech giants led by IBM are spearheading the efforts of developing technology that will decentralize data sharing. Known as the Sovrin Foundation, the non-profit that has brought together a number of tech companies are starting off by developing a Decentralized Digital Identity Network.

The aim of this is to give users the power to decide the exact type of information they share and who they share it with.

As we look forward to the gains that these technologies will bring, it is imperative that moving forward, we share information online with more caution than before.