Planet Mars, Curiosity, And Data Security

Author:Mr Francois Lesieur (Articling Student)
Profession:Cozen O'Connor

For those captivated by recent events in astronomy, parallels can be drawn between the recent landing of NASA's rover Curiosity on planet Mars and the public discourse on data security in Canada. With the distinction that one is effectively equipped with the right budget and tools to achieve its actual objective, both have come a very long way, both have managed to blaze through layers of clouds, both seek to secure ingredients essential to life, and both are now aimlessly wandering about unchartered territories.

A decisive factor in Barrack Obama's 2008 political campaign was the extensive use of individual, thin sliced consumer data to send highly tailored messages to gain political support. Within 13 years, Google has become the most valuable brand in the world through the aggregation of vast amounts of data including search data, or data held in Gmail accounts. This information is then used to create an advertising cruise missile, which is much more efficient than the old method of pattern bombing.

Before going to war against Iraq for the second time, thousands of Iraqi military officers received tailored e-mails on the secret Iraqi Defense Ministry e-mail system, causing many Iraqi officers and their troops to go on "leave of absence" before the U.S. started its own cruise missile campaign. In other words, be it controlling ideologies and political thinking or monopolizing sectors of the market through information asymmetry, behind every data breach there is the potential for a greater harm than that which is often spoken of in the media. In short, data breaches have the potential of affecting core democratic institutions; privacy is the only protective layer.

Causes for data breaches have been attributed to malicious attacks, negligent insiders, system glitches, and lost, stolen, or compromised technologies such as USB keys, laptops, cloud services, mobile phones, and external hard drives. As technologies become more complex and diversified, transparency is reduced, and the risk of human error and data breaches is increased. Data breaches are occurring in every industry sector: financial, retail, healthcare, services, education, technology, manufacturing, transportation, consumer, hotels, leisure, entertainment, marketing, pharmaceutical, communications, research, energy and defense. In 2011, the average organizational cost of a data breach in the U.S. was estimated at $5,501,888.00. The average per capita cost of a data breach was...

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