As the use of the Internet has become a routine activity, so has the extraction, analysis and monetization of personal information, much of it done without the knowledge of individuals. According to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of employees working on white-collar workers work from home at least part of the time, meaning there is more activity and personal data in cyberspace than at any other time in history.

Not surprisingly, the cybersecurity industry has exploded. ResearchAndMarkets.com has estimated the global cybersecurity market at $ 183.34 billion in 2020 and predicts that by 2030 it will reach $ 539.78 billion. And while much of the consumer industry is focused on open threats – cybercrime such as identity theft and password theft, banking information and the like – organizations are doing billions of monetization of data stored from individuals through Internet search engines, smart devices , social networking and e-commerce transactions.

And it’s perfectly legal – for now. Anyone who spends time online has a data file that includes their gender, age, address, companies and products they collaborate with on social media content, advertising or websites, online shopping history and thousands of other data . Companies have created business models based on these quantitative and qualitative data and regularly extract, buy and sell this information as a commodity.

“There is behavioral data such as shopping habits, high-risk items such as social security numbers, phone numbers and email addresses,” explains Rachel Cash, founder and CEO of Elroi, a Detroit-based cyber technology firm owned by black. “Other than that, I can still identify you with high confidence in the population. There are enough pieces of data I could have about you that could pinpoint you or a very, very close duplicate of you in the ecosystem. ”

According to Mikaela Barnett, CEO of Blacks in Cybersecurity, the rise in social media and online learning in schools and other events – especially after the pandemic – has brought more personal data to the Internet than ever before. “We now use the Internet more than ever for our basic needs. With a lot of people working from home, everything is online – Google Forms, Gmail account, Google Docs, Google Drive, ”she says. “Sure, it’s increasingly available, but it entails its own data protection issues.” Blacks in Cybersecurity is a group of meetings and a series of conferences designed to help highlight and uplift black communities in the industry.

While this may seem harmless on the surface – after all, many companies use this information to market products and services that they think a particular person wants or needs. However, this data can also be used to manipulate individual behaviors and reactions. “If I have enough data about you, I know what will get you into action. And if I develop my advertising enough, even if you may disagree with what I say, if I have adapted enough, I can convince you of things, ”explains Cash.

The British consulting company Cambridge Analytica did just that when it unanimously collected the personal data of millions of Facebook users and used it to provide analytical assistance to the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in 2016. The consulting company closed the store amid a scandal with data from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. “With black professionals, organizations have a great tendency to access your information,” Cash says. “Not to say we’re less prone to technology, but we have value in our data and we don’t always provide it.”

Thus, in an ecosystem where data is dollars and mining is gold, it is best to protect your data as much as possible until legislation catches up with what is happening in cyberspace. “In essence, we believe that data privacy is a constitutional right – you, as an individual, have a right to your own data,” says Cash. “You are the one who created it. And we are working to create solutions that allow consumers to sell and control their data.”

The good news is that at least 38 states have introduced more than 160 consumer privacy bills in 2021 (compared to 30 states in 2020 and 25 in 2019), according to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) . NCSL is a bipartisan organization representing legislatures in the states, territories, and commonwealth of the United States. “What the consumer can do now is require companies to disclose what data they have about you,” Cash says. “Do they have a business basis for this data? Do they have retention schedules – a specific time at which the data can be used? “

Until legislators adopt comprehensive consumer data protection, control over their data rests with individuals. “There’s a lot of philosophical debate in the cyber community about how to approach this in our interconnected world and how to approach it as a consumer who’s just trying to use a service,” Barnett says. “That’s why many people by default don’t use basic Google, Yahoo, etc. and use only security-oriented products, such as ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted email service. ”

So where is all this going and what is the future of cybersecurity from a human perspective? Cash believes that legislation and consumer demand will lead to stand-alone data if a person retains control of their data and can, if necessary, transfer certain data points to the organization. For example, an auto insurance company will only have access to relevant data related to the automotive space. “I have 3,000 pieces of data and I will be able to decide which ones will be enough to do me a favor,” she says. “Like a digital wallet, you’ll be in complete control of your data.”

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