We need to rethink how we store our personal data

The data breach at credit reporting agency Equifax, the gory details of which became clear last week, is the latest installment in a series of cybersecurity disasters in which consumers have been at the receiving end of the miseries. The breached data affected the information of 143 million people. That’s not a big number when compared to some of the bigger data breaches of the past year, such as Yahoo’s 1 billion user account record breaker.

However, what made the Equifax breach especially damaging was the sensitivity of the data that attackers laid their hands on. This included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, birthdates and addresses, and more. The only data breaches that compared in terms of severity were Anthem (approx. 80 million people affected) and the Office of Personnel Management (approx. 21 million people affected).

What makes matters worse is that Equifax professes to be a company that protects its customers from identity theft, the same kind of cyberattack that the stolen data will enable. The company is now scrambling to make amends with customers, and is getting ready to face several lawsuits. But that won’t bring back the data that has slipped through its fingers. Continue reading

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What’s the value of blockchain to consumers?

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A distributed ledger that relies on no central authority and is tamper-proof. That definition of blockchain, the technology that underlies Bitcoin, will appeal to anyone who has had a taste of the sorry state of centralized models of business and networking.

Wall Street is abuzz about blockchains because blockchains can make financial transactions faster and cheaper. Cybersecurity experts believe blockchain can prevent cyber attacks and maintain the integrity of data and online identities. Blockchains can bring transparency to supply chains and fight voter fraud in elections. I can go on about the applications of blockchain in different industries.

We know very well how to pitch the industrial and business value of blockchain. But when it comes to explaining blockchain to consumers, we’re saying all the wrong things. Continue reading

Here’s why you should be wary of ICOs

In tandem with the surge in value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), the new form of investment that relies on blockchain (the technology underlying Bitcoin), are also gaining traction. Blockchain startups are raising millions in ICOs without going through the tough and cruel Silicon Valley VC process, and every major media outlet is talking about them.

When we first covered Initial Coin Offerings on TechTalks past December, we weren’t very sure about their future. At this stage, they’re still widely viewed with skepticism (as is everything else that relates to cryptocurrencies). But it looks like ICOs are here to stay, unless they bubble as some have predicted. Continue reading

Blockchain will be a fundamental component of a data-driven world

Whether it’s personal, social, corporate, scientific or political, data will have a key role in determining the functionality and efficiency of the systems that will underlie the infrastructures of entire communities as humanity becomes more and more digital.

Data has rightly earned the title of “new gold.” It is fast becoming the main drive behind modern business. Companies collect and analyze data to improve the efficiency of their services and products.

And as with everything of value, there’s reason to believe that future wars will be fought over data stores. But there’s really much more to data than monetary value. Continue reading

Blockchain’s promise for the gaming industry

Elder Scrolls Skyrim

Over the past decade, the gaming industry has gone through immense revolutions and transformations. The old model of paying once with cash and buying games of the shelf is slowly giving way to platforms such as Steam and app stores where you buy games online or pay as you play.

Games have now become full-fledged commerce platforms and markets, where players spend money to pay for services, access expansion packs and extra levels, or buy and exchange in-game assets and resources with other players. Continue reading

Why I’m giving up on Twitter conversations

Twitter logo

I love Twitter, have been using it for years, and my Twitter account is much more active than my LinkedIn or Facebook. I use it regularly to share my latest articles with my followers, share links to other scoops and articles that are worth reading, post amusing comments on others’ posts, or simply vent my frustration when a particularly complicated article is giving me a hard time.

But Twitter gets frustrating as soon as exchanges start to get technical and lengthy in nature. And my latest episode happened yesterday, after VentureBeat ran my latest article, which explored the intersection of blockchain and cybersecurity. Continue reading

How blockchain can improve cybersecurity

blockchain-security

Our increasingly connected and digital lives are making us more vulnerable to cyberattacks than ever. As was the case in previous years, 2016 saw a spate of cyberattacks of unprecedented proportions. Some of these incidents were a reminder that the internet is no longer fun and games.

What we also learned was that the current infrastructure that powers our current local and global networks might no longer be able to sustain the new generation of attacks and threats.

Enter the blockchain, the distributed ledger that underlies the popular and controversial Bitcoin cryptocurrency, the technology that is the result of decades of research in cybersecurity and cryptography. Continue reading