Infosecurity Europe 2018, held at the London Olympia, is one of the largest and most prestigious cybersecurity conferences in the world.
And when we say big, we mean BIG!
Although a largely corporate event, there is still plenty of interest for those primarily concerned with online privacy and personal cybersecurity. One event that caught our eye was Wednesday’s opening keynote speech by Baroness Martha Jane Fox, Co-Founder of Lastminute.com and Co-Founder & Executive Chair of Doteveryone.
Keynote Breakdown: Dystopia or Utopia? Privacy & Cybersecurity in the Digital Age
As users share more and more personal information with digital platforms, from search engines like Google and social networks like Facebook, to retailers like Amazon, the privacy and cybersecurity landscape is becoming increasingly complex.
The alleged activities of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s role in it have highlighted serious questions, not only about how data algorithms can be used to influence politics and society but also how organisations that rely on harvesting user information for their business model are using personal data.
As tech giants come under increased regulatory and governmental scrutiny, what does this all mean for privacy and cybersecurity?
In her keynote, Fox took a broad look at the problems created by the internet, noting that back in the heady days of the dotcom boom we could never have foreseen that there would be a duopoly on the internet, with Google and Facebook controlling the vast percentage of the data flow.
She discussed how the internet does not appear to be serving the interests of many of its users. For example, only 12 percent of people think the internet has helped society. And while only 40 percent of people think that the terms & conditions they encounter online are actually in their interests, they click on them anyway…
Fox also highlighted the huge gap between the sophistication with which data is manipulated by large internet companies, and the lack of digital literacy among the majority of internet users. Many people think about data as something they consume on their mobile phones - and not the data they are creating.
When it came to solutions, Fox was upbeat about the possibilities, but was a little hazy on details. She noted that humanity should be dominant in how we build our future, and that while progress may have gone too far in the wrong directions, to go back to where we want to be we need to go forward and not be afraid of technological solutions.
Fox stressed that, in the face of threats to our democratic systems from the likes of Russia and China, it's vital we keep our liberal values when building new innovations and technologies.
To go forward will require all three parts of society coming together: the legislators, individuals, and corporations. Importantly, she made the point that no politician is going to lose votes for being negative about technology.
On a practical level, she pointed out that the UK government is working on plans for a digital public health campaign- a bit like an anti-smoking campaign aimed at helping people to feel empowered in their digital lives.
“I hope I have convinced you we can very much look forward to a bold future, and we should not be fearful.”