Recently at CeBIT 2015, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald spoke about the world after the Snowden data leaks.
It was interesting to note that the focus of the conversation was about the role of journalists and character of Greenwald and Snowden, while little attention was paid to how it was done and how security has changed since.
This is surely where the interest lies, not with what happened but what is happening now. The risk of dwelling on what happened is that you fail to address what is going on today.
Is the assumption that because the NSA and GCHQ were caught, that they will no longer be doing the same thing anymore? Or is it far more likely that these organisations will just become smarter at doing the same thing without being caught?
Snowden, said: "They (the NSA) are looking for the people who are in this room right now. You are their target, not because you’re a terrorist, but because you have access to systems. You have access to the private records of people’s private lives and these are the things that they want."
Snowden, towards the end of the interview, spoke to the gathered tech industry audience and pointed out that it is up to them to provide counters to some of the actions of government organisations.
The market is there to produce technology which protects the privacy of people and in Snowden’s mind there is a moral duty to do this.
There is a growing market of high security devices, just look at the new BlackBerry tablet and look at the swathe of new security applications which use retina identification or other complex systems to lock your devices.
But is any of it really protecting your data? And is it even possible to fully control your own data when you go onto the internet, check your emails or use your IoT devices?
All companies will be mining your data when you access their websites or use their technology. So if you are really concerned about who is seeing your data and where it’s going, the only answer is to not use any services. Which isn’t really a solution.
Controlling your information is a seemingly impossible task and many appear to not really concerned by the issue. But it is important to remember that your data is valuable and you should protect it.
Politicians having unsecured phones or using personal email accounts, like Hilary Clinton, raises questions over how seriously security is being taken at the highest levels.
While companies are spending millions on making sure that their systems are safe, data breaches still happen and most of the time it is due to human error.
But is it possible to remove human error from the chain? Almost certainly not, but what can be done is to have proper systems in place to effectively monitor and secure systems.
I don’t believe that a system of fines for data breaches will stop them from happening and these should only be implemented if the company has shown to have acted negligently. What needs to be done is to make every person in the chain accountable.