Saturday, April 13

Can Businesses Maintain Security In The Age Of Data Ubiquity?

Technology has had a liberating effect on society, using open data sharing to turn mundane tasks into quick or automated blips in the day. However, the open sharing of data to create these circumstances has not come without consequences; a multitude of fines have been issued for data breaches, with one totaling $1.3m, and new legislation could send those responsible for data breaches to prison for 20 years. Technological advancement continues regardless of any setbacks, with contactless transactions – currently used for payments, but capable of so much more – set to take center stage.

Businesses need to adapt to keep up, but how do companies adapt to the shifting landscape? As technology creates new problems, it provides answers, too. Through tying together new standards and protocols with older technology, businesses can ensure they meet the stringent data requirements they owe consumers while continuing to allow technology to transform everyday lives.

Returning to solid-state protection

One of the defining technologies of the past decade is the cloud. Originally used for personal storage, it soon expanded to encompass big businesses. Today, the cloud is the standard for many businesses, whether they know that or not; according to ZdNet, 27.5% of all data is in the cloud. Cloud security has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, but many will still remember the reputational damage caused by the celebrity cloud hacks of 2014 and the fallout from suspected hacking in the US election cycle – again, on cloud servers. There are alternatives that are of interest to companies.

One technology that has been popular in the news cycles is blockchain. Similar to the cloud, blockchain works on a non-centralized system, relying on the input of multiple users. Blockchain then went on to form the basis of cryptocurrency. This is where a potential return to solid-state security devices has been mooted. The most secure cryptocurrency ‘wallets’ are held on secure external hard drives or flash drives, which seamlessly tie together physical security and web-based tech. The potential for companies is that data can be stored in a solid format, through bulk flash drives, providing an instantly removable data point at the host end in the event of a breach.

Solid security is also one of the driving forces towards wearable equipment. This will allow consumers to tie together important economic and banking information with the assurance of having something tangible to place their hand on. In many ways, this reflects the confidence and continued importance of items like the flash drive and portable hard disk.

Preparing for worst case situations

A solid-state data security solution is a great step to take but not full proof. Given the instantaneous nature of contactless transactions, it’s more difficult to prevent security breaches, or fraud, while they’re in-the-act. Instead, action moves to retroactive processes. Current examples show that companies can, and should, adapt, through technological measures.

A first, and crucial policy, is to extend zero liability to customers. As Canada’s banking association have noted, most large cardholders offer zero liability and this approach can be taken to other NFC technologies. Despite the thought that fraud can occur much faster due to the speed of NFC transactions, the fact is that contactless fraud is a relatively low sum – in the UK, for example, it peaked in 2017 at around $6m (according to The Telegraph). Offering zero liability on whatever your product is a sure-fire way to increase confidence in the company. With contactless technology extending to e-ticketing, password protection, and targeted advertising, this will help to protect a wider market.

What’s the future?

Contactless payments are here to stay. Analysts Ingenico suggest that contactless payments will account for $2tn of global payments by 2020, with already 2 in 5 transactions taking place via NFC or RFID technology today. Plotting the future will allow companies to preempt developments and plan accordingly in order to maintain data security.

One major innovation mooted to transform the industry is antennae lengthening. Currently, the short antennae of contactless devices is a strong security point – it prevents the approval of transactions from anything more than a few millimeters away. Increasing this range, as Lowry Solutions have suggested will be done, reduces that assurance. However, this can help to transform other sectors. One such area is shipping, where RFID can be used for seamless and accurate load transportation between vessels and harbors.

For consumers, wearables will continue to be the most important innovation in the industry. According to UK consumer watchdog Talk Retail, 72% of consumers see wearables as the future. Products such as the iPhone and Samsung Phones feature heavily already SA future option being explored by banking companies combines hardware with contactless recognition. Rings and wristbands are increasingly being deployed for their usefulness in tying together physical and contactless options. Future innovations will include the use of biometric information, such as eye recognition and fingerprints. This will, of course, open an entirely new avenue of security questions – where biometric information is tied in, it can become medical in nature. Regulations like the GDPR and HIPAA then become priorities and companies will have to adapt to ensure they are served well. The alternative can be crippling; according to Compliancy Group, 2018 has seen over $24m in HIPAA fines.

The technology that allows everyday people to get their business done quickly is some of the most desirable. Removing mundane processes from everyday life provides the basis on which to improve day-to-day life and create more time for self-improvement, leisure, and productivity. However, this freedom requires looseness with data and an environment of data sharing ubiquity, through which some companies are not equipped to secure.

Through solid technology pairing with technology-progressive security policies, companies are waking up to the importance of technology and creating solutions to ensure future transitions are smooth. The result will be wide-scale improvements, both in the consumer sphere and in the workplace.

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