Thursday, April 12, 2018

Data Breach

Facebook being one of the more popular social medias has been informing its users that their data has been misused by Cambridge Analytica. This data breach has definitely affected many users including myself. While on Facebook earlier this week I received a notification regarding misused data similar to the picture provided in the article. Facebook

The notification basically explains to users like myself that the company understands how important it is to keep our data safe. Also the fact that Facebook has decided to make a major decision and banned “This Is Your Digital Life,” the app that the data breach was caused by. The app had a feature that allowed users to use their Facebook log in information (data) in order to access the app. However, the problem came about when the app misused users information by sharing it with a different company called Cambridge Analytics. Most of the data that was shared only gave basic information like one’s public profile, their pages likes, birthday and current city. Yet, there were other cases where much more information was disclosed, more than there should have been.

This situation is a bit scary. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives.
It allows for both instant and constant connection between people. In addition it is an important driver for acquiring and spreading information in different domains such as business, entertainment, science, crisis Management, and politics. Social Media gives everyone a voice and allows their opinions to be heard. As social media grows, so does the overall amount of data. This results in new opportunities for analyzing overall  patterns in communication. However, will people want to continue using social media if they feel like companies are violating their privacy?

I do think it is permissible  for  companies to use your information on social media in order to communicate with you and potentially show you a product that you may like. However, there should definitely be boundaries to what amount of information they are allowed to have access to.

This article is a great read and very informative to the way Facebook has handled this data breach. Although security has definitely improved over time, situations like these allude to questions about what companies are really doing to the data people like us use every day.

An article such as this one brings light to how important data really is. Along with how important it is to be careful with your personal and business information on social media. I am sure as time goes on Facebook will find a way to securely make sure that information is being used properly. I personally do not think this breach will do as much damage to the company that it could have, especially since the breach involved third parties. Yet, this is definitely a less for Facebook along with other companies that have large data services and users who utilize their sites, games, apps and data daily.

Fish and Data

Fish and Data
Determining the sex of a fish in extremely important the fish farming industry in the united states. The right ratio of male to female sex fish in the stock tanks produce the best yields. To accomplish this feat, researches from University of Austin Texas had to assemble an annotated genome. This genome has over six hundred million pieces that all need to be connected like a puzzle.
Researchers were able to complete this genome due to supercomputers. Because the genomes are so large, they take up an enormous 500 gigabytes of storage to complete. It took recent advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing, and supercomputing with over six thousand nodes with twelve terabytes. This supercomputer performing a basic local alignment search tool. This program examines each piece of the puzzle to than connect the pieces together. What would typically take over a year of computing time turned into a couple weeks. Currently the genome sequence process is hypothesized to help with identifying mutations, and deformities in the fish being farmed. With the advancement in supercomputing power we are moving into a new age of data collection, and genetic material identification.
Through sequencing technology, big data can solve sustainable food problems, and the fish farming of California Yellowtail is just the beginning.

Are social media companies protecting your data?

  With the upcoming midterm elections, the subject of how personal data can be used for political gain has become very relevant. Under the magnifying glass is Facebook, a company that makes use of every information you share. In 2017 Facebook made 40 billion dollars from advertisers that pay for personal information so that they can reach the right target. Cambridge Analytica acquired information of 50 million user through an app and then connected to their friends’ profiles reaching 87 million users. It is bothersome that political campaigns can purchase access to our social media profiles to use for their purpose without our knowledge.

Regulators in Washington are pushing for more accountability. As a result, Facebook is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission about their privacy policies. In its defense Facebook insists that it does not own your data and that it has been giving users the ability to download a copy of all the data they ever shared on their platform since 2010.

The article explains how Facebook is promising to better protect peoples’ privacy sharing with the user a full archive of all of his/her information and the names of advertisers that have access to their data. In addition, the article discusses how that option will also be available for Instagram.

Facebook is taking a very smart action to save their baby company Instagram, by giving out tools so people will have confidence on what kind of information is shared and with whom. Facebook is still trying to hide the relationship between the two large social media platforms to the general public, to avoid mistrust by association. The video attached reveals that 57% of Americans do not know that Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.

In the past, I did not have a problem with information being collected from me, but I am glad that I now have the option to choose what can be shared. I personally feel better knowing that I can have access to all the information that I have shared and I can review my archive to make a decision whether I would like to keep or delete my account. I also think that while the Analytical scandal brought the subject to public attention, this is not a new subject. Most people realize that their information is used daily to profile their habits and improve target marketing. We can see it in the ads that are presented to us after doing any kind of search. What people are worried about is the unknown uses of that information. Until more trustable privacy measures are available, my advice is to minimize your use of social media.

Microsoft 365 Has Enabled Ransomware Protection Features

Microsoft Office 365 has finally stepped up their game. Now introducing a built-in ransomware protection feature. It is integrated within all of their applications to maximize full safety. As great of news, this is, I am still shocked that it took Microsoft this long to integrate this feature. Countless ransomware attacks have been released within the past year and have averaged damages of five billion dollars globally. This attack has targeted financial institutions, Medicare, big businesses and individuals all around the world. It is obvious why Microsoft has enabled this feature, they are continuously growing and considered to be the most widely used office suite today. So, it makes sense that the company has been getting pounded with phishing attacks, viruses, etc. The main reason why Microsoft is such a big target is that ransomware tends to encrypt your data through productivity apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This tends to be the hub of where the most sensitive information of a company is kept.
            The new security features were primarily targeted for business on OneDrive, however, the company has decided to distribute this add-on to anyone who has signed up for Microsoft 365. Not only can individuals get their hands on it, it’s extremely effective and user-friendly. Now to understand what is so great about it, we will dig deeper into what the five features are.
-       First is Files Restore, this gives users the ability to restore their entire OneDrive from any time within the past thirty days. It saves companies from accidental mass deletions, ransomware and file corruption.
-       Secondly is Ransomware Detection & Recovery, this feature sends a notification to the user via email, text or on their desktop to inform them that their documents have been encrypted. It then gives the user the ability to restore their documents from their OneDrive prior to the compromising of their files, so no valuable information is retained from them and lost.
-       The third security feature is Password Protected Sharing Links, which allows for safe distribution of important files. If a colleague accidentally forwards an email with documents, the other recipient will be unauthorized to obtain them.
-       The fourth security feature is Email Encryption, which personally is a tool that I think should have been integrated from a very long time ago. This allows users send end-to-end encrypted emails on Outlook.
-       The fifth and final feature that Microsoft has offered in their 365 suite is Prevent Forwarding. This prevents email recipients from forwarding encrypted emails that you may have sent a document attached. It adds an additional layer of protection to ensure nobody can intercept it.

I find these tools to be quite impressive from Microsoft’s end. I hear many companies attempting to integrate encryption tools within companies, but they only do a fraction of what Microsoft does. I feel much more confident on Microsoft’s end with their attempt to protect user data. Now what happens if hackers are able to bypass their tools?