What was interesting and trending in 2015?

“What’s in the news?” is a favourite, regular question most of us ask.  News is interesting in that it only remains news for a brief period of time, but yet forever remains a snapshot of a given moment in history.  It helps us makes sense not just of who we are and what we stand for, but also ‘when’ we are, or were, so to speak.  News, and more importantly, our access to it, or at least the controlled feed of information, is what shapes and changes our lives… mostly at an subconscious level.

News, then, is information.

What makes news interesting is that it’s not just something that happens to other people – it’s often perceived like that: as we watch news on TV; listen to it over the wireless; or gossip whilst talking to friends and family face-to-face or over social media.  But be under no misapprehension, news is actually what happens to you, as an individual – #JeSuisNews.  Information about you changes daily, and it’s that changing information – that news – which everyone else wants to know.  And that’s why we are all so paranoid regarding the information about ourselves that is accessible to other people: your privacy and your right to keep that information as private as you wish.  It doesn’t matter how people and organisations search for and find information about us, the point is we’ve made it easier for the whole world to talk about us because we have a digital footprint in a highly networked world – and that’s interesting (from a gossip perspective) for a whole host of people we know and don’t know, for reasons we approve of and many we certainly would disapprove of if we knew of the underlying motive.

Last week, we heard about the latest hacking attack in what seems to be a constant stream of hacking articles this year – this time it was Anonymous.  Designed to be scary just in their choice of name, by definition, this sort of article shows yet again that no institution is safe.  No person’s individual information that sits on their own device (for example their phone or their home computer), unless and until it is disconnected to a network, let it be repeated, no person’s individual information is safe.  Hackers can access any system, and therefore your information, from anywhere.

Last month, we had the beautiful illustration that enterprises don’t learn from previous hacks – TalkTalk wasn’t just hacked in October, but also earlier this year in February.  The consequences of exposing the personal information of 160,000 customers?  A share value worth 20% less than before the 2nd hack.  And this is true for all institutions who are hacked – citizens, voters, patients, customers, whatever you are… we all lose confidence in organisations we should, quite frankly, trust.

So if we were summing up 2015, what would that look like?  Compared with previous years, we know hacking is rising exponentially… there are now three types of organisation:

  • those who have been hacked but are yet to be exposed in the news (all organisations and individuals have been hacked – some just don’t know it, and those that do, certainly won’t admit it);
  • those that have been exposed in the news to their hacking woes; and
  • those that have been exposed in the news on multiple occasions for their ongoing, inevitable failure to deal with hacking.

It is at last safe to say that the message is getting out there – the role of the news has at last done its magic.  The repetition and the sheer variety of news stories has now meant that 2015 may perhaps go down in history as a turning point in the critical mass acknowledging that connected networks are just not safe, as evidenced by the fact that 9 out of 10 of us are concerned about privacy.

What needs to be done in 2016?

2016 will see a continued rise in hacking and news items on the subject – people love the gossip (as long as its not happening to them).  But more and more, as more and more people realise that it is happening to them, the conversation will increasingly turn to how individuals can be accountable for their own privacy and be responsible for their own information, no longer relying on ‘supposed’ trusted experts to have their best interests at heart – reality check during 2016 will be that we will realise we can’t do anything about stopping hacking if we continue to insist on putting our most valuable information on networked devices (i.e. the internet of everything).

As early as January, companies will start to offer ways for us to collect all our essential life data, information and documents (both physical as well as online), and protect it all off-the-Cloud, so it is all not connected to any network whatsoever.  The internet will of course continue to serve a very good purpose: individuals will be able to buy this platform online (as well as from each other – because we will all gossip about it).

The news will start to spread around the world during the first week of January, as more and more reasons come to mind about the other benefits of such a platform (other that just addressing privacy concerns), for example, saving huge costs in settling Estates because it just takes professionals such a long time – upwards of 5% of the value of the inheritance (just think about what your largest asset, for example, your house is worth)!  You can avoid a lot of these costs by being organised.

From the 1st January, New Year resolutions will be discussed and good intentions will be shared.  The planning starts.  Your information is your legacy.  Your plans for the rest of your life, for your family’s life, need to be news to your loved ones – and this news needs to be updated regularly.

Think you can think of everything?  Think again.  We forget what we’ve got.  All that stuff… it’s everywhere.  Think about it today, right now.  You love your family, don’t you?  Think about the grief and hassle you leave behind for them to clear up – think about the cost: that’s the money they should have had, that you’ve worked so hard for, that goes instead to professionals, because you were just not organised.

Now we know what needs to be done, let’s get out there and do it!!  Remember, there’s one thing you can’t change: #JeSuisNews.  Share this blog – if it’s news to you, it’s news to everyone you know.