As digital beings, we are sometimes unaware of the vast amount of data that we are generating. While this data is integral to enhancing our online experiences, it also puts our privacy in great danger. Fortunately, new and improved technologies have emerged, giving some respite to individuals, businesses and governments.
Thanks to these emerging technologies, the data privacy landscape has evolved more in the past couple of decades than in the entire century. Although there are many different emerging technologies, we’ll focus on Blockchain Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Zero Trust Architecture.
Blockchain is undoubtedly one of the most exciting technologies that the world has seen in recent times. Essentially, it is a distributed digital ledger that can hold any kind of information. There are a couple of standout features of this technology. Firstly, It permits data storage in “blocks” that are combined to form a rigid chain. The interesting thing is that these blocks are incredibly difficult to modify, making them secure. Secondly, blockchain is based on the principle of decentralisation, ensuring that no single entity is in control of the data.
The above set of features make blockchain a game-changer for data privacy. The immutable nature of the blocks makes them resistant to hacking by threat actors. Each block is connected to the ones before and after it. So, any change done to records in one block will have to be replicated in all others connected to it so that the change goes undetected.
Additionally, since there is no single authority carrying out the transactions, a hacker does not have the option of breaching just one server. Unless most of the servers on the network are simultaneously compromised for changing records, an attack will be detected. This happens because all computers in the network sync with each other and constantly share and verify data. Blockchain already has multiple use cases such as securing medical records, digital identity management, asset tracking in the supply chain and decentralised finance (DeFi).
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is concerned with giving human-like intelligence to machines. Computer systems today are adept at handling large volumes of data. Combined with artificial intelligence, they browse through information and processes quickly to check for inconsistencies due to a cyberattack.
Artificial intelligence also has a significant role to play in biometric authentication. Biometrics are a critical part of the authentication process and use unique features of the human body for identification. It includes recognition of fingerprints, retina, face, voice, palm and more. Therefore, artificial intelligence combined with biometrics forms a strong layer of security to maintain data privacy. For instance, take the case of voice recognition. The machine constantly learns and captures your voice, whether in video calls or instructions to a smart home device like Alexa. Through artificial intelligence, your tone is registered along with the dialect, speed, pitch, etc. Therefore, it can distinguish between different people who may sound similar to humans.
It is also free from any biases, which adds to the security. For example, hackers regularly con people using social engineering or phishing techniques. Machines are far less susceptible to such attacks and will only authenticate a user based on merit. Therefore, data privacy can be enforced, accurate and fast.
Zero Trust Architecture
Zero Trust architecture was introduced in 2010 by Forrester Research, who found that many data breaches occurred in organisations because it was relatively easy to navigate internal systems. The Zero Trust model operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify”, implying that any person traditionally considered within the security perimeter should also need to prove his identity.
The model is derived from multiple technologies such as encryption and multifactor authentication. Its underlying principles are designed to enforce data privacy. They include least privilege access, implying that only required information is given to an individual, micro-segmentation to branch out the network and have different credentials, and data usage controls to limit what people can do with the provided information.
Zero Trust architecture is relevant today because of its use in cloud services and remote work environments. Data privacy is maintained through regular monitoring and intervention, keeping employees, customers and company assets guarded.
The number of internet-connected devices has far exceeded the number of human beings on the planet. As a result, a lot of data about us is accessible to others on the internet. Emerging technologies are playing a pivotal role in re-establishing our control over our data and privacy. However, with cybercriminals also using advanced tools, one can never be too cautious.
Author: Sarvpriye Soni, Director, Cove Identity