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There's Much Ado About Security in 2014

"Everything is achievable through technology: better living, robust health, and for the first time in human history, the possibility of world peace." That's a quote from Howard Stark, the father of IronMan, in the movie. The quote came to mind as I was writing this column, and except for the world peace part, what he says is relevant to technology and to what I see coming in 2014: big data analytics, mobile, cloud, social, and, of course, security.

Later this week, I'll give you my thoughts on the other hot issues, but this time I'd like to talk about security and how it will be a big concern next year (especially in the context of big data) above all the others.

Security
The IT conversation in 2014 is inevitably going to be about security. The proliferation of devices is bound to present security threats at some point. So far we have not seen a major attack on mobile devices, but to think that it won't happen is asking for trouble. I believe the adoption of MxM technology will accelerate especially if vulnerabilities surface early on.

Security will also be a significant focus as more enteprises adopt and accept the cloud. Now that enterprises are accepting the cloud and using the various services, many security questions are arising and the need to protect data in the cloud will be crucial moreso into 2014.

The security conversation will also bring up the issue of privacy, which will be one big road block toward cloud adoption for many companies. What I am about to say will not sit well with many, but it is unfortunately a fact that sooner or later everyone will come to terms with: "Privacy" does not exist anymore. Anyone who thinks that in today's age, there is room for privacy is holding on to a pipe dream. What's so funny about privacy is that we all want it, but when you boil it down to someone and explain to them what it will take to attain it, they no longer want it.

Privacy is a concern and it's not just because of the media frenzy around the NSA incidents. Privacy goes beyond that and here's an example: The new Microsoft Xbox One has a built in camera with facial recognition technology, and that sounds like a great idea for single sign-on, right? Yes, from a consumer perspective. Can it be misused? I can nearly guarantee that it will be mis-used. I can imagine a greater database for the NSA to tap into, or a great target for hackers to go after. Such privacy abuses apply not just to the Xbox One, but remember that Sony's newest PS4 also has a camera. Sure, you can unplug the camera from the back, but that's a temporary fix and you may eventually find that you might need to use it for some gaming.

Even if you address the camera problem, Xbox One and other consoles can use voice-activated commands. So, that console is always listening to what you're doing. You can disable that as well, or can you? Did you know that even your cell phone, when it's turned off, can be used by someone smart enough to be able to listen to your conversations? The capability is there.

Let me take this one step further. Cable and satellite companies will soon be shipping boxes that have the capability of listening on your conversation in the living room. Based on keywords and context that those boxes pick up on, they can show you advertising that is relevant to your conversation. Now that's a clever use of big data analytics. You can disable that as well if you like, but maybe not completely.

At some point, the only way to have privacy is to not use any technology whatsoever. That's because everything will be a smart device and it'll be difficult to turn them off with certainty. And that's why I believe the notion of privacy for enterprises and for consumers is over. The new thought process is how to create data, content, and conversation that is private at the source. It is too early to tell, but you should be thinking about dealing with this and not trying to fix. I believe it can not be fixed.

Let me know what you think so far in the comments section. And next time, I'll talk about the rest of my predictions and how your job as an IT professional will change in the coming year.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 12/16/2013 at 4:30 PM


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