Privacy in a Big Data World

privacy big data security biometricsBig data is inescapable today. Everywhere we turn, some company or agency is gathering information on a massive scale. From Facebook to the FBI, it has become a commodity, and the more you can gather, the “richer” you are. In this age of digital overload, how can you maintain privacy?

What is Big Data?

One of the main problems with big data is that it’s used in a few ways. It has different meaning for different people. When you break it down, big data simply means information sets that are so large or complex that traditional processing isn’t able to handle them. For companies, this raises challenges in storage, sharing, visualization, curation, search, analysis, capture, security, and privacy compliance.

When it comes to privacy in particular, big data can present several other issues. Controlling access to it, establishing adequate security for transfer and storage, and providing user control over their own information can be very troublesome. The sheer size of those sets makes it difficult to locate specific information and maintain complete visibility over it. This is why tools have been developed specially to handle big data, separately from traditional solutions.

Information is one of the most valuable commodities a business has today. It provides the power behind everything a company does, from market analysis to production. Whether it’s what consumers are buying or market price fluctuations, businesses need access to it, and they need to be equipped to quickly and efficiently process it.

But What About My Private Data?

Private data, the information that organizations gather about their users, is no different. It has to be used in the same ways and with the same efficiency as any other data. However, the rules that govern it are slightly different. Private data has to be protected more effectively, and, more importantly, users need to be made aware of what has been collected about them. This makes it even trickier to handle on massive scales.

When a business struggles to manage big data, it doesn’t just mean that it’s mismanaging a commodity. It’s also putting user privacy at risk.

WIll Encryption Solve the Data Crisis?

The first step in optimizing how private data is managed is to better safeguard it. IT security will address a myriad of the problems that can plague a business regarding this resource, as long as the right solution is used. This is why many companies deploy encryption solutions in their data centers.

According to Computerworld, encryption has always been a sore spot for IT teams, because it slows down workflow for them and the end user. However, the technology used has improved enough that this problem is starting to vanish, allowing companies to utilize always-on encryption across their data centers. As this happens, security improves.

However, simply encrypting data might not be enough. The end result of encryption doesn’t protect it from being stolen, it just makes it harder for hackers to do anything with the data afterward. This is why new information management systems are also needed.

Privacy and Biometrics

One of the cornerstones fueling privacy controversy today is biometrics. There is no information more private than our biometrics, and as more organizations roll out biometric authentication, the need to protect the user becomes more imperative than ever before. If a hacker steals the digital image of your fingerprint, even if it’s encrypted, it’s only a matter of time till they break that encryption and have a copy.

Through a distributed data model, utilizing Visual Cryptography for encryption, we can solve the fundamental issue of how to store and protect biometrics. Rather than creating a central database or storing the user’s biometrics locally, this model actually breaks up the biometric images once they’ve been processed. By encrypting and breaking the image into multiple pieces, this allows it to be stored in separately protected places. One piece can be stored locally on the user’s device, and another piece on the authentication server.

The distributed data model provides significant protection over other storage strategies, because it makes it so even if a hacker does gain access to one system, they won’t have access to the complete set of information.

This model is the foundation of the VeridiumID platform, and what makes it so much more secure than other authentication solutions. When it comes to biometrics, with distributed data in place, even if a hacker gains access to your company server, it only holds a piece of your biometric image. They would also have to steal your physical phone, then figure out which encrypted files pair up before even beginning to decrypt them. This way, your most sensitive of private information can be safe and secure, but still usable in a company’s big data system.

To learn more about how VeridiumID can protect your company’s biometric data, download our whitepaper, “How to Integrate Biometrics in Enterprise Mobile Apps.”