The amount of personal data managed by third parties expands at a nearly incomprehensible rate every day. With the vast majority of these corporations relying on centralized servers to protect client information, 2018 perhaps unsurprisingly saw the personal information of millions of people compromised on an international scale.
Some of the biggest data breaches last year came from household names such as Facebook, Google, and T-Mobile, Facebook alone suffering consecutive major security incidents that affected over 100 million users of the popular social media platform. The Cambridge Analytica scandal also brought to light uncomfortable truths about the business model of such platforms, as many people chose to delete their accounts upon seeing how their data had been cataloged and sold without their consent.
Even traditional industries were affected: popular UK-based airline company British Airways fell victim to a ”malicious criminal” hack last year too that saw customers’ personal and financial details compromised.
The case for blockchain
There are several reasons why blockchain immediately appears compatible with protecting personal data. For one, the system is immutable and does not allow access from unwanted actors and secondly, various levels of access can be administered to users, which means personal data can be shared on the distributed ledger only to those who have directly been allowed access.
Ryan Faber, co-founder of cryptographic identification startup Bloom, has said security breaches against major corporations are now happening on a weekly basis. He believes that blockchain technology can provide a more secure solution to handle sensitive data, while also giving people more control over the usage of their own information.
Noting the number of users on BloomIDs has exploded; over 120,000 were created just last year, Faber told Forbes earlier this year:
“The demand for secure identity and better data management practices has been huge.”
Protecting data through a blockchain protocol means that instead of relying on the traditional central server, data is stored locally on users devices, managed through private keys that allow access and giving the user control over who accesses what and where their data goes.
Data as currency in 2019
As the model of social media has increasingly revealed, personal data has become a tradeable commodity that allows corporations to profit from private individuals, very often without such individuals even being aware their information is being sold. People looking to take back personal control have been migrating to decentralized alternatives to Facebook such as Minds, Memo and Steem. One report from the Guardian suggests that teenage Facebook users in the US fell by 20% last year.
On top of the benefits of securing data via the blockchain, users on platforms such as Minds can earn tokens as rewards for posting content that other users enjoy.
But it is fair to say there has yet to be any blockchain social media app that has seen its popularity explode, and people understandably want to use sites where they can find members from their social groups. While it will undoubtedly take time for one of these platforms to emerge dominant, the trends certainly suggest people are looking for better solutions to ensure the privacy of their own data.
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