Tech Talk: Bill Magee
Never has an undoctored flow of factual information been so vital in a digital age dominated by endless social media chatter and hijacked by what’s become known as fake news.
Twitter has this week singled out the worst of such manipulated tweets labelling them “deep fakes” and is seeking social media users’ thoughts before a deadline of 27 November to send in their views.
One suggestion is placing a warning against a dodgy tweet but just how one identifies such spurious activity might prove harder than anticipated. If nothing else, I guess it’s a start.
It’s the latest example of how we’ve gone well beyond good old-fashioned propaganda. Remember those rose-tinted pre-internet and pre-mobile phone times when it seemed easier to spot a big fib?
In cyberspace it all seems to have got, well, murkier. For plumbing new depths of deliberate disinformation read downright lies. But enough of the politicians.
“Knowledge is power”, according to innumerable historical sources ranging from Orwell, JFK, and Kofi Annan, to even Jimi Hendrix. Trouble is, can we actually trust anything we’re told nowadays?
Online computer system hacks, attacks and leaks occur virtually daily, just ask the UK Labour Party. In this current General Election confusion, that’s just for starters. BREXITime will tell, I guess.
At least one thing’s pretty certain – those pesky Europeans will continue to call the tune beyond the UK’s departure, when it comes to the handling of often private and highly sensitive personal/commercial information via the Internet.
“What!” I can hear you holler,”No way…” I’m afraid it’s true.
Companies, irrespective of size and sector, will continue to adhere to and abide by the European-driven General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Think about this for a moment.
At the click of a button, voice command, face recognition, thumb – you name it – an organisation’s digital footprint instantly extends to the other side of the planet with few boundaries or barriers.
Unfortunately, a breach can, and does, happen – often unwittingly – especially if the correct multi-layered encrypted protocols plus constant in-house staff training programs are not in place.
A high proportion occur during work-time when an employee takes their eye off a screen and slips up. The result can be cataclysmic, for all concerned.
Prof Bill Buchanan, who heads up the cyber academy at Napier University, defines the vast majority of leaks as “accidental or unintentional” distribution of private/sensitive data to an unauthorised entity.
Direct losses include violation of regulations leading to fines, customer compensation, investigation costs, litigation, reduced sales and restoration fees.
Indirect losses include a fall in the share price, a company’s reputation, customer loss of faith and intellectual property (IP) loss to competitors.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has placed on record that by-and-large GDPR will remain law. ICO carries with it the clout of the 2018 Data Protection Act.
It affects not only UK and EU-wide organisations but data controllers and processors around the world. Gartner predicted that on the date of implementation – May 2018 – more than half of organisations would have failed to fully comply with its requirements.
It’s got better since then, of course, but organisations are urged to get their houses in order.
Fintech Scotland conference co-sponsor Capito’s managing director Mark Gibson emphasised to me that we are now all operating in a data-centric world, in which innumerable information sources represent the most valuable currency.
McKinsey Global Institute pinpoints key features: business intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning and processing plus visualisation taking in charts, graphs and other displays.
That’s a lot going on and not always that easy to handle. It’s easy to fall behind, especially given the sheer pace and volume of innumerable data sources including the Internet of Things (IoT)/smartphones, cameras, microphones, smart TVs, digital PAs…
IDC warns organisations trying to cope with thousands-upon-thousands of gigabytes of information calls for a reconsideration of data management options.
Unfortunately, existing software tools to hand are often found to be inadequate to capture, curate, manage and process data in a safe and secure manner.
It’s become labelled as a Big Data “ecosystem” and there’s no getting away from it. Even if you might want to keep your on-board tech “simples”, a key client is likely to have other ideas in terms of digital accountability.
Also, bear in mind ICO powers have strengthened with fines rising from £500,000 maximum to the sky’s the limit.
Get it wrong and it can all but bring an organisation and everything around it to its knees.
Best to leave nothing to guesswork and something to be avoided at all regulatory costs.
Bill Magee is a technology writer and a former Scottish IT Journalist of the Year
This column is sponsored by Capito