We have created a race of monsters. Big data beasts. And they are growing.
Every second of every day we feed them. Each person and organization is generating data, adding to their respective monsters’ mass. As they continue to grow, we live on – some in fear, some in ignorance – but all continually feeding the hideous beasts.
Some of the data we feed them are direct and obvious, like making phone calls, sending text messages, or downloading files. Others are less obvious, but just as direct, like home energy consumption, arming and accessing security systems, cell phone tower transmissions, and riding digitally controlled elevators. The big data beasts are consuming all of it.
More data is created, changed, saved and tracked than at any time in history. It’s a mess. When you think about the beasts, you start asking questions that may not be easy to answer initially:
The monsters don’t care about those answers, they only want more data to eat and grow. They will never stop consuming, but they must be tamed – and that’s up to us.
Let’s start by acknowledging them. Nearly everything we do increases our digital footprints and feeds the monsters. When we ask Alexa or Siri a question, wear a FitBit, make a PayPal purchase, post on Instagram, or use use Waze or Google Maps to guide us, we create data – food to consume.
There are risks to letting these creatures run wild with the data we feed them. One of the biggest is security. Their growth creates more opportunities for potential bad actors to harness the monsters and use their power and mass, i.e. your data, against you. However, if we are able to tame the beasts, we can reduce the odds of that happening.
As Individuals, we should be mindful of how and when we access our data monsters. We can make simple changes in our basic practices, like getting a mobile hotspot instead of using public WiFi. This keeps some of your data out of places where bad actors could easily access it. Another helpful practice is to use different passwords for your email, social media accounts, and devices. If one of your accounts were to be hacked, this would help keep your other accounts safe. With each step taken to manage data better, your beast begins to bend to your will.
In addition, organizatons can deploy simple risk mitigation methods for beast-taming. Developing clear policies, deploying technology management solutions, properly training staff, and creating a culture of security awareness are all excellent steps. If your organization doesn’t quite know where to start, asking a team of qualified technologists for guidance can help move you in the right direction to control your data and begin taming the monsters.
Once on that path, risks turn to advantages. Having secure access to well-managed data can allow you to analyze patterns, report vulnerabilities, and answer questions you may not have thought to ask. At this stage, you are taming the creatures and using them to aid your organization. Knowing and understanding your data beasts can unleash your ability to properly utilize their power. We’ll cover that in more detail in a future post.
We must face reality. The beasts are loose, ever-hungry, and growing larger by the day. Despite this, we do not have to be afraid. We must simply take the time to understand our data and change our basic practices to manage it properly. To tame the beast.
And remember, we are all in this together. You do not need to have all the answers yourself, there are technology professionals who can help you face the challenge head on and take the right steps to control your data. If so, we may be able to turn hideous monsters into a beautiful beasts.
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The opinions reflected in this post are solely those of the author, are for educational purposes to provide general information, and do not necessarily represent the views of iDiscovery Solutions (iDS), nor any current or former employee of iDS. Moreover, any references to specific litigation or investigation work or findings are fact-specific. The Forensicators blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice.