In a world where the internet has invaded our homes and offices, it has become almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t possess an online presence. Whether on social media or other online endeavors, we all have some data on the internet that can be traced back to us. Think about all the times you have entered your personal information on an online sign-up page or survey. This data needs to be responsibly managed to ensure not only users’ privacy but also companies’ future abilities to smoothly run operations. Some time ago before the widespread use of the internet, companies and institutions did not have a lot of digital data to handle, so traditional storage and curation methods were sufficient. This is not the case today, however. As data becomes more and more abundant, new management strategies need to be developed to keep up and ensure the authenticity and security of this digital asset. In fact, data is now considered one of the most treasured resources in the world surpassing oil in value. This is unsurprising given the endless ways it can be utilized.
What Happens to Your Information?
As a user, your data is of extreme value to online companies. Many websites that we access on our personal devices have built-in trackers and algorithms that work behind the scenes to collect our data, sometimes even without our knowledge.
Website cookies are small footprints you leave behind while browsing the internet. They are mostly used to track your activity across different pages and can sometimes help in targeted advertising. Advertising companies aggregate this data and build a virtual profile for every user containing their personal information and interests. This profile is then used to deliver specific ads based on every user’s needs. Targeted advertising is useful as it reduces irrelevant ads and only shows users offers that they care about. So when you see an ad for the exact thing you googled a week ago, know that it’s not just a coincidence, but rather an intricate neural network following you around trying to show you the most useful ad.
In spite of that, data collection can also impose a privacy risk for users. In the unfortunate case of a data breach, private user data is made public and often sold off to the highest bidder on the Dark Web. To avoid such complications, companies are raising their hiring standards and now require proper data governance training and cybersecurity skills. Sadly, there isn’t enough awareness being spread on the importance of online privacy. For this reason, it is of great importance for everyone to take the necessary precautions while surfing the internet. This includes using a VPN on untrusted networks and investing in a password manager to avoid the reuse of passwords across different accounts. It is also very important to think twice before entering any personal information on shady websites.
The Future of Data Storage and Management
Digital data storage has come a long way since its invention in 1947. In that era, it took a hard drive that weighed more than a ton to store a meager 3.75 megabytes of data. Today, hard drives weigh less than half a pound and can hold up to 4,000,000 megabytes. In addition to hardware devices, innovative new technologies like blockchains are emerging and showing great potential for the future of data storage.
Blockchains use peer-to-peer networks combined with cryptography to provide a decentralized and incredibly secure online method of storing information. They are designed in a way that prevents data already added to the blockchain to be tampered with later on. Blockchains play a great role in the operation of Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies by keeping track of and validating transactions between users. This way, the transparency, publicity, and authenticity of these transactions are ensured. The fact that blockchains are decentralized and non-custodial enables the ability to send and receive crypto payments around the world without any limitations. For this reason, Bitcoin is the main payment method used on the Dark Web for the purchase of illegal goods and services.
In the future, it is expected that blockchain technology will be put to other uses besides cryptocurrencies. As more and more blockchain applications get developed, they may soon be used to keep track of things like medical records or even criminal history. Governments may also put this technology into action to record official documents and run secure and transparent voting mechanisms.
The world we live in today is not the same as that of a few decades ago. As we continue to grow increasingly dependent on the internet, we must not forget the importance of practicing safe online habits. Luckily, innovative inventions like blockchains and cryptography are showing promising potential for the future of online data security. At the rate at which blockchains are growing now, it would be unsurprising to see blockchain-enabled data management taking over in the near future.