Facebook reaching fifteen – a stark reminder of the value of data

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Image Credit: Pixabay

As you’ll likely have seen, Facebook recently hit the ripe old age of 15. It’s hard to believe that it’s really been around for that long. Whilst Facebook was not strictly the first social media platform, in many ways it has been the most impactful, and the granddaddy of social media as we know it today. Countless imitators have sought to usurp the throne from Facebook, but few have even come close to replicating its scale and scope.

A lot has changed since Facebook’s birth in a university dorm in 2004. The iPhone was still three years away, online shopping accounted for around two per cent of UK retail sales (compared to 10 times that now), and broadband was found in only 12 per cent of British homes. It was a simpler time, digitally speaking.

Unbeknownst to the public of 2004, Facebook was to become one of the most valuable companies in the world, and it was to be built on a commodity people didn’t even realise they possessed, let alone that they needed to protect – their personal data.

Data-driven business 

Facebook’s wildly successful data-driven business model shone a light on the true power and value of data. Data is often called the new oil. Whilst the comparison has been done to death at this point, it’s undeniable that data has been fuelling businesses for the past dozen or so years. Businesses live and die on the quality of their data, and they’ve become increasingly skilled at acquiring, analysing and using it. 

Over 90 per cent of all data has been created in the last few years. Our increasingly online lives mean we are constantly creating greater and greater volumes of data. A Domo report puts the data we generate every day at around 2.5 quintillion bytes. Data protection, whilst certainly not a consideration in 2004, has become an increasingly important topic. With seemingly everything we do generating data, the public mindset needs to focus on thinking more carefully about the data they dole out to companies, and whether they trust them as its custodians.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

(Image: © Image Credit: JanBaby / Pixabay)

Loss of trust

We have witnessed this trust abused in recent years, often by Facebook, but in no way exclusively. Data has been misused, misplaced and stolen on an unprecedented scale. Whilst new regulations such as GDPR have put tighter controls on companies’ use of customer data, with Google the largest and most recent company to be hit with the regulatory cosh, the inherent value of data means it will always be sought after by unscrupulous individuals operating outside a regulatory framework.

As Facebook hits this grand milestone, it should serve as a reminder to businesses that the world is a very different place to 2004, and the valuable data they have built their current positions on is prized not only by themselves. They are bursting at the seams with data, and as such, they are targets.

The greater the prize, the greater the lengths criminals will go to possess it. In the last several years we have seen a proliferation in the variety and sophistication of cyberthreats, and increased organisation amongst cybercriminal groups. This necessitates a new approach to cybersecurity, one that focuses not solely on prevention, but detection.

New era of cyber threats

With the myriad of new threats out there, it’s almost an inevitability that a company will be compromised. Being able to identify when this has happened, rather than simply that it has happened, is incredibly valuable. Last year’s Marriott hackers had undetected access to systems for four years before they were discovered. Integration of NextGen SIEM and User and Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA) solutions can ensure that, if the worst were to happen, a company would be able to detect and neutralise the threat straightaway.

Facebook reaching 15 years old, with a valuation of hundreds of billions, has relied heavily on it being one of the first to comprehend the true value of its users’ personal data. It was able to flourish and expand so quickly because it was dealing with a public which didn’t.

Fifteen years on, however, the excuse of ignorance no longer holds water. All that has happened since 2004 – the hacks, breaches and scandals serve as an important reminder to the public that their data is valuable, and they need to ensure that any company they entrust with it can be relied upon to secure it and use it responsibly. It should also remind businesses that the mistakes of the past cannot be repeated. They have responsibility to safeguard their customers’ data and, as the cyber landscape becomes ever more sophisticated and dangerous, that they must take as many precautions as they can to do so.

 Ross Brewer, Vice President and Managing Director, EMEA at LogRhythm 

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