Cybersecurity Insight

Data Security A Top Concern For FTC In 2016

15 Jan

This past week, privacy and consumer security issues took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez spoke with attendees about the potential benefits and risks associated with Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart devices and the collection of important, personal data are changing companies and the way users live our daily lives – ‘smart’ glucose meters, as Ramirez referenced, allows both patients and doctors to monitor glucose levels, and devices like a FitBit allow us to monitor our daily activity levels through steps and movements. But, Ramirez cautions, while IoT devices are becoming the norm, discretion is paramount in regards to the usage, sharing, and collection of data: “Connected devices that provide increased convenience […] are also collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks.”

With the FTC focusing on consumer privacy in the new year, Chairwoman Ramirez outlined three troublesome trends with the IoT partnership: all-encompassing data collection, taking liberties with consumer data that were previously unheard of, and heightened security risks. Of course, security and privacy are major concerns among technology users today. An endless collection of data can be hugely beneficial – saving time, money, and effort – but it’s also precarious. For instance, if that data is not secured properly or is subject to theft from a data breach or hack, it could have debilitating consequences for the consumer in question.

The solution? According to the FTC and Ramirez, it really falls on the company to do the following: assess the security risks associated with their user application, not collect every piece of data but rather to practice “data minimization”, and be transparent with how their data is being used and why.

In the end Chairwoman Ramirez’s words tell us that there is an increased focused on consumer privacy and security – with increasing data breach instances, a rallying cry has been made to strengthen security across businesses worldwide. Secondly, even though data breaches are going to happen, company’s must improve their immediate and long-term responses. One could infer from this speech that the probability of attacks or data breaches is only going to increase. Companies need to see increasing security measures and data transparency toward consumers as a two-pronged approach. Companies should not only have plans in place to mitigate risk overall, but plan for contingencies should there be an issue with data usage.

Overall, Ramirez sparked optimism for the future of data security and privacy. The world is getting smaller everyday, and smart devices are connecting people more than ever. This important step in the direction of smarter security will help guide us into the future unknown.