Security expert: Data is the pollution of the Information Age

May 6, 2010 By Victor Godinez

During a panel discussion at the recent Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in Dallas that otherwise was as dry as a highway in the Sahara, security guru Bruce Schneier made a provocative argument.

He contended that just as pollution was the unfortunate byproduct of the Industrial Revolution, data is the waste product of the .

And just like pollution, all the data we generate during our lives never degrades.

He noted that almost every transaction and interaction now generates data.

Whether it's buying a product with a when we used to pay with cash, or communicating via or when we used to just make a phone call, activities that previously left no trace now generate a significant digital trail.

"It's strange to us to think of getting dumped on the Internet. But for the younger generation, it's perfectly normal," Schneier said. "And it will still be normal in 20 years when that record of getting dumped is still out there on the Internet."

Schneier said the cost of storing all that data is now so low that the companies that manage those transactions and communications no longer delete old data. They archive it forever.

Figuring out how to manage all that digital flotsam and come up with rules for how and with whom we want to share it is a , he said. Otherwise, companies will develop their own rules to sell our personal information to the highest bidder.

"We think we're Google's customers, but we're not," he said. "We're Google's product that they sell to their customers."

Schneier said the current generation needs to act quickly.

"Our grandkids will judge us on how we managed data," he said.

Explore further: Trust Digital Offers Smart-Phone Security Management Tool

0 shares

Related Stories

We can have ‘win-win’ on security vs. privacy

March 26, 2007

People think there has to be a choice between privacy and security; that increased security means more collection and processing of personal private information. However, in a challenging report to be published on Monday ...

Unclear what happens to personal info with Clear

June 27, 2009

(AP) -- More than a quarter million people are wondering what will happen to their fingerprints, Social Security numbers, home addresses and other personal information now that a company that sped them through airport security ...

Some Sidekick users may recover data: Microsoft

October 13, 2009

Microsoft said Tuesday that some Sidekick mobile phone users may recover personal data such as contacts, calendar items and digital photos believed to have been permanently lost in a server failure.

Is there really a cyberwar? Term might be misused

May 5, 2010

(AP) -- Is there really a "cyberwar" going on? Some officials and computer security companies say yes, arguing that armies of hackers are stealing online secrets and using the Internet to attack infrastructure such as power ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jsa09
5 / 5 (1) May 06, 2010
Some might think it is a provocative statement - but he is absolutely right on the money. I am certain I do not want anything I said last year in print to be taken as how I feel or think about something today let alone tomorrow.

Our opinions and beliefs change over time, or at least they do for most of us. The trouble with storing all data is that stuff does go out of date and many of us have not yet adapted our behaviour to take that into account.

Unfortunately people may even organise and run an armed rebellion using beliefs that in 20 years time they would otherwise think of as naive or ignorant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.