Use IoT Security Concerns To Your Benefit

Don’t think you are being paranoid. Use cybersecurity concerns to protect personal data.


Did you know data scientists can now link Instagram posts and other meta-data to credit card purchases?

Indeed, MIT researchers said recently that just four fairly vague pieces of information — the dates and locations of four purchases — are enough to identify 90 percent of the people in a data set recording three months of credit-card transactions by 1.1 million users.

They stressed that this means that someone with copies of just three of your recent receipts — or one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought — would have a 94 percent chance of extracting your credit card records from those of a million other people. Scarily, this is true even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else typically considered personal information!

Obviously, protecting anonymity in large data sets is an urgent concern with public and private entities viewing aggregated digital data as a source of insights. Retailers studying anonymized credit-card histories could certainly learn something about the tastes of their customers, but economists might also learn something about the relationship of, say, inflation or consumer spending to other economic factors, the researchers said.

Surprisingly, even after the researchers coarsened the data to intentionally make it less precise in the hope of preserving privacy while still enabling useful analysis, it made identifying individuals more difficult but not at a very encouraging rate.

Separately, there are efforts at MIT to develop a system to allow people to store the data generated by their mobile devices on secure servers of their own choosing.

Or did you know that there are companies that, in the interest of protecting their clients from cybercrime, use their datamining technology to figure out who you are before you even make a purchase on a website?

You can even view fraud attempts in real time.

As our world gets ever more interconnected, the smallest security glitch can leave data unprotected and open to be collected.

Rather than being afraid to be called paranoid, use the information to be cautious and protected in the expanding world of everything-connectedness.

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