Data Security in the Age of Online Payments and Social Media Validation: Where Does the Buck Stop? In the light of the now infamous Tumblr adult content ban episode, the risk of compromise and misuse of digital media becomes all the more important

By Dr. Somdutta Singh

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Most millennials and a significant section of the adult populace across the world is hooked to the digital world. Online payments and social media validation, primarily because of the 'ease of use and accessibility factor', have become the norm. While we've reaped the benefits of technology driven progress so far, many incidents in the recent past have exposed the dangers of this unhindered surge.

In the light of the now infamous Tumblr adult content ban episode, the risk of compromise and misuse of digital media becomes all the more important. While some corporate and data giants have always brushed aside the fears, calling them misplaced, it is safe to say that the fears, at the least, are real.

Related: How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Cyber Security Landscape and Preventing Cyber Attacks

Numbers: A Perspective

According to an article in by Rob Sobers, damage related to cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. Also, in 2016, Uber reported that hackers stole the information of over 57 million riders and drivers. This, among many such incidents only goes to show how vulnerable our data is.

Related: Eliminating Cyber Threats in 2020: Why Enterprises Need to Rethink Cyber security

The same article also goes on to point out that more than social media data breaches accounted for 56 percent of data breaches in the first half of 2018. With social media assuming the same importance of routine necessities such as water, air and food, which, no wonder, is a rude shock to civilisation, it is time to question how the average digital, social media user is responsible for placing his own privacy at risk.

The new middlemen and Casualty of Trust and: The moral question

Amidst threats that are looming large, it is important to guard against descending into a spiral of pessimism and hate. Finding the objective middle ground between abandonment of technology and resigning to a total surrender of privacy for instant benefit is the need of the hour. And that begins with the acknowledgement of all the advantages leveraged so far.

To put things in perspective, it is necessary to ask three questions integral to this global dilemma. One, where does the buck stop in regards to data security? Two. What is the role of the user in protecting his data and privacy, while continuing to integrate the digital advantage in routine tasks? Is it possible to overcome the trust deficit that is growing by the day?

Before looking at the answers, let's shed light on the evolution of the smart-world that we claim to inhabit. From the days of barter system to paying bills and having food delivered to your doorstep, we have come a long way indeed. For the most part, cash and middlemen ruled the roost, while digital interface was yet to register itself as a viable alternative. Now, payment gateways have replaced middlemen.

While this change brings transparency and makes any chance of corrupt practices redundant, some data theft is practically beyond any reparations. Moreover, the moot point here tilts towards the moral question.

Prisoners of our own device: Swipe right; swipe left

Consequently, the user-trust begins to head south and there is a gaping hole in the long-term relationship between businesses and consumers. Owing to established normative procedures of user need, the business will operate. But the responsibility of giving out only the required information and mitigating the risk of misuse lies with the user.

Giving up the digital drug addiction and defining its purpose only to necessities, can do wonders in keeping the risk at bay. Yes, the buck stops with organisations that use our data. There's no denying this truth. But our dependency is the fodder. The lesser it is, the safer we are.

Having said that, one cannot wish away the need for facilitators in any system. But, the key to finding the balance depends on the riders. The average human being is on tenterhooks. The world, at the cusp of glory and disaster.

Till the phone was locked to a wire, humans were free. Freedom without responsibility and liberty without law are invitations to pandemonium in a maze. This draws our attention to the era of dating apps. For most people, social validation is a genuine need. While the Tinders and the Bumbles have provided an easy escape route, the cost users are paying is heavy. Sacrosanct privacy has become business material.

Natural human connect is being replaced by digital instant fix. Human interaction has gone amiss in the world of swipe right and swipe left. Millennials have become pawns in the hands of data. Our lives are at the disposal of data machines, asking questions and posing threats. It is, at the least, time to think.

The lines' You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave' from 'Hotel California' resonates strongly in these times. Say no, before it's too late. Your data, your privacy, your right.

Dr. Somdutta Singh

Founder and CEO Assiduus

Dr Somdutta Singh is the the Former Vice-Chairperson of the NASSCOM Product Council, only woman to have ever held this post. She is also part of the Core Committee of WEP (Women Entrepreneurship Platform) by NITI Aayog and a serial Indian entrepreneur, mentor and angel investor.  

Somdutta has mentored various initiatives that include Google Launchpad, Microsoft and Target Accelerator, IIDT, Govt of Andhra Pradesh and is now a Mentor of Change at Atal Innovation Mission (AIM).  She is also currently on the advisory board of Karnataka Biz-tech ITBT Ministry, Co-trustee and Director at Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CEE) & Digital Leadership Institute, Founder of IRA - a crowd sourced fashion label; Co- Founder - Amplicell - a heath supplements company & Founder, CEO at Unspun Group, one of India's 1st technology-based marketing solutions companies. 

She is also on the advisory board for BloombergQuint and has been a keynote speaker at several prestigious symposiums. She is a political analyst and has regularly appeared on debates across TV channels.

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