Big Data – is there such a thing as privacy?

Locked phone

When the dust settles from the current US party nominations, the debate that is going to dominate huge aspects of this election will be data and where it sits within the boundaries of personal privacy.

While the news cycles were dominated by the Republican and Democratic primaries, the US State Department released 52,000 e-mails from Hilary Clinton’s private server after responding to multiple Freedom of Information requests.

The controversy centres on Clinton’s handling of classified information while serving as the United States Secretary of State and is currently the subject of an FBI investigation, worryingly, it was a case of hacking that first brought the situation to light.

In 2013, a hacker widely distributed classified e-mails sent to the journalist and political aide Sidney Blumenthal from Clinton’s private e-mail address.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation and inevitable political fallout, the entire situation has served to highlight the precarious nature of data security – the weakest link in any security chain determines the strength of your security.

It is no coincidence that those working in the most secure areas of the Department of Defense and National Security Agency have been forced to surrender their smartphones and seen their communications restricted to traditional, secure telephones.

When the very agencies tasked with uncovering secrets makes sweeping changes to their own personal communications, the rest of us should take note.

Looking for a backdoor

The next data story destined to dominate is the ongoing dispute between Apple and the FBI.

Pressing for Apple to provide decryption for the iPhone handset used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, the FBI has faced a robust rebuttal from the technology giant.

Coming against a backdrop of repeated law enforcement requests for Apple to provide a backdoor into its encryption, it is unsurprising that Apple view this specific request as little more than opportunistic posturing on the part of the FBI.

Such is the wide ranging implications of Apple’s situation that tech rivals Google, Microsoft and Amazon have responded in solidarity with Apple, going as far as stating their intention to prepare an amicus curiae to assist with any resulting court battles.

Undoubtedly, the particular case of the San Bernardino attack was an appalling tragedy that demands a full investigation, however the implications of law enforcement demanding access to personal data should not be decided simply on the severity of the case in question as there is no one time situation when dealing with legal precedent.

Apple, and the rest of the tech giants are well aware that how they act in this case will determine the landscape of data retrieval for the foreseeable future.

While all of this serves to give the impression that iPhone’s and Apple’s encryption is an impenetrable fortress, the reality is quite different.

Firstly, this entire situation was a direct result of law enforcement incompetence and lack of understanding of Apple’s iCloud system.

Embarrassingly, the FBI’s tech department believed that simply requesting a password reset it would grant them access to the data stored within the iPhone.

As most iPhone users could attest to – the exact opposite happens, a complete lock out of the phone.

A very specific set of circumstances led to the lock down of this particular iPhone that does not present a real world representation of the security of iPhones.

Lock your conference call

The good news is that with Buzz Conferencing, it’s easy to make sure you are not overheard.

Our system is totally secure and uses proper telephone lines not VoIP connections so it’s almost impossible to hack.

For added security, simply press #3 and your call will be locked so that nobody else can join and your privacy is guaranteed.