First it was nation states that controlled the economy. Then it was multinational corporations that weighed in. Now it’s hackers. As individuals, we have tried to construct communities that protect our joint self-interest – we created authorities to govern (& police), and we established enterprises to trade… all with a wishful element of control. Now, the very structures we built are at the beck and call of a new economy, and with it come a host of rising costs in keeping some semblance of stability in the original organisations we needed to establish. We put in IT across a worldwide web to drive efficiencies that would make us all richer.
Nobody saw the (then) future threat of today’s Hacking Economy. The upshot? Our self-interests are corroding away. At the heart of our concerns is the very erosion of our Privacy. Every time there is now a breach of these IT systems over the internet, our private data is being exploited for the gains of the hackers. The communities we built are being destroyed. It is up to us as individuals to start to make amends both privately as well as in the organisations in which we work to safeguard the structures we have so successfully built. And it starts with protecting our own private data. But this cannot be done using security – at best, this is only a temporary preventative deterrent.
There are upsides to the Hacking Economy, not just if you are a hacker. If you are a major player in IT security, no doubt the events of the past 12 months will have proven a major opportunity to sell your wares – according to Symantec, a conservative estimate of 500,000,000 records were hacked last year. So, pushing ever more and increasingly expensive security solutions is making a lot of companies, sales reps, and shareholders a good return. Especially, when there are likely to be around 1 billion records stolen this year.
The costs though of the Hacking Economy are the real worry. The problem with spending money on security is that it does not work… as the CEO of TalkTalk put it, after been hacked twice in 2015 and spending £30m on security, “the higher we build the firewalls, the longer the ladders the hackers are using.” Not only that, TalkTalk also suffered a 25-30% loss in share price, as nearly 100,000 customers walked out the door. With the recent loss by Travelers Insurance in their Class Action lawsuit for a data breach on a US hospital in 2013, either premiums to cover data breaches will go up, or the policies will be withdrawn altogether – either way the cost of legal professionals and damages will be passed on to consumers. Then there’s the cost that Anthem experienced in managing the fallout of their 80m records hacking – some $250m. All these costs coming the way of consumers.
Finally, the Hacking Economy is best for hackers themselves. Education, finance, and health records are selling for up to $2,000 each on the black market – the richer the record, the higher the price the record commands… so to enrich a record, hackers are also now targeting accountants, lawyers, and every individual’s PC and mobile device, as well as purchasing marketing lists from ‘legitimate’ providers (like social media tech giants – data we happily “sign-up to sharing”), all of which provides a steady stream of revenue in very well organised operations with call-centres. Put on top of that the ransomware demands, and the total income for the Hacking Economy is probably conservatively somewhere near $1 trillion p.a. already.
Importantly, therefore, is the following quote from Symantec: “Safeguard your personal data: The information you share online put you at risk for social engineered attacks. Limit the amount of personal information you share on social networks and online, including login information, birth dates and pet names.” This is where platforms like LifeBank come into their own. LifeBank removes all our private data from these connected IT internet systems, which will not only protect our data away from potential hackers, but protects the very essence of Privacy itself.