There is no doubt that we have become immune to the news. We quickly scroll and skim through it because, at this point, it feels like we’ve seen it all, so it’s no wonder that yet another data breach is unable to grab our attention. It’s a regular occurrence and unless it affects you directly, why should you care? But the thing is, you should.
Just recently the personal data of 533 million Facebook users was leaked online and while the story got some immediate media attention, it died fast. Over the years Facebook has had numerous breaches—and yet its profits continue to increase each quarter. This is very telling. People don’t care about data breaches unless it affects them personally.
“… the total number of records compromised in 2020 exceeded 37 billion, a 141% increase compared to 2019.”
With the number of breaches trending up—is it only a matter of time before you’re the next victim? So what can happen if your private information ends up in the wrong hands? It could be used to commit fraud, empty your bank accounts, destroy your credit, or hold your sensitive information for ransom. It can “ruin your reputation.” This shouldn’t be a consequence of using the Internet, but it is.
Last month, two cloud providers reported “catastrophic” data breaches. Beginning in December 2020 and lasting two months, Ubiquiti had its routers, switches, security cameras, and video recorders compromised. Not to be outdone, Verkada was compromised when hackers gained access to 150,000 cameras installed in a variety of locations including jails, hospitals, and schools—even automaker Tesla had its camera feeds exposed.
That is a lot of compromised data to steal all at once. It just goes to show that no matter how state-of-the-art a company’s security practices may be—it’s only as good as its weakest link. Nobody is safe.
A Better Model
Most Internet companies don’t build products with security in mind. Actually, if you’re a company like Facebook, data breaches might just be the cost of doing business. In a mad dash to roll out features, build a userbase, and sell ads—security is often an afterthought.
Remember, a common adage in Silicon Valley is “Move Fast and Break Things”— consider the consequences later. The consequences being data breach after data breach. The fact that hundreds of millions of users have had their private data stolen should serve as a wake-up call.
In 2020, “155.8 million (American) individuals were affected by data exposures.”
The Alternative: Decentralization
Instead of continuing to blindly trust third-party servers with our personal data, why not take control of it? Instead of one company holding the lock and key to our data, why not let customers provide their own security provisions? Decentralization can do just that. On a decentralized platform, you would be able to exchange information, share photos, and connect, but on your terms—no third parties between you and your friends. Your data Is for your eyes only and those you choose to share it with.
If we slowly begin to seek decentralized alternatives and move away from using centralized platforms—which clearly don’t do enough to ensure the security of your data—the risk of having your information leaked online would decrease significantly. It would be a small step towards fixing a really big problem.
Our personal information shouldn’t be up for grabs. Data breaches shouldn’t be normal—it’s time to start building a better Internet.