Data — Security — Encryption — Blackmail money and blockchain, the future of the digital world.
The handling of data in 2020 — a shocking stocktaking
Data storage — central servers — central administration — one point of attack
Nowadays, when you download an app to your phone, a lot of data is requested. In addition, access to some mobile phone functions is requested, as these could be necessary for the application to function. So far it is obvious. Often, however, the rest is queried and stored somewhere with one wash up, so to speak. Somewhere means on a server, i.e. a central administration office and a central computing system. Server problems are handled quite well by most companies. But what about hacker attacks. Not only private individuals are the target of such attacks, but now also large companies. A central administration and storage always means a central point of attack.
Attack on large companies — ransomware today — what comes tomorrow?
Everybody remembers one or the other attack on Google, in which e-mail accounts were extracted. Even PayPal was already in the focus of highly professional hackers. Whether and how much data was dusted there, most companies rarely disclose. The most recent attack on 23 July 2020 was directed at the fitness watch producers Polar and Garmin. Here, a ransomware was used to paralyze almost the entire network of providers. Ransomware is a very lucrative method for criminals to get at other people’s money. Here, not only important data is encrypted and access to the computer network is restricted. Free of charge there is a blackmailing ransom demand to decrypt the data or to get access again. In such an attack, the networks are paralyzed, users can no longer access and synchronize their profiles, in short, nothing works. But what if the data is not only encrypted, but completely stolen and sold? Technically, it is definitely possible with centralized management and storage of the data.
What is particularly exciting is that there are companies that even advertise by selling personal data. Because, hey, at least the application is then free of charge. This is sheer madness and definitely a very short-lived business model. But you have to give the makers credit for earning a lot of money in a very short time. A good excuse is the following: “We have expressly pointed this out to our customers and users. They have also taken note of it, after all they have checked the box for the general terms and conditions and data protection regulations. There the fox bites its own tail. Almost all legal systems that focus on consumer and data protection have created very clear and unambiguous regulations for companies. But what good are these if the person who is to be protected does not attach any importance to this protection at all?
Possible use of personal data — sale?!
That is why the naive people described at the beginning of this article ask themselves what should happen with personal data. The most obvious is actually the case — they are sold and they are used. Then you wonder about strange phone calls from insurance companies and brokers, strange e-mails about erectile dysfunction and the odd thing in the mailbox with personal address. Yikes — how do they get hold of my personal data?
Personal data on common running and health apps
But after email addresses, private pictures (which is bad enough in itself) and telephone contacts, comes the next level of data. This is the personal data. So if the case should arise that central servers of running and health apps are actually hacked and the data is stolen, the following scenario results. Someone knows what you eat, when you eat it and what you drink with it, and because of the GPS data they even know where you are eating. If you are an opponent of foodporn pictures on Instagram — well, that’s nothing different. The consequence — personalized advertising at every turn. According to current scientific knowledge, neuromarketing is capable of completely turning our heads and turning us into a will-less consumer. But that is a lesser evil. What’s really bad is that someone knows where you are and when, when you leave the house, where your favorite jogging route is, when you’re at the gym, when you’re at work and when you’re at home, what your sleep rhythm and shift system is at work. And if that’s not enough for you…
The Transparent Man — a horror scenario — taken a bit to the extreme
The term “the glass man” originated in the early 90s and is classically used in connection with data protection. It is a metaphor for the increasing surveillance of people, new technical surveillance methods and the growing interest of the state in information about its citizens. It is not without reason that the use of this term gives rise to fears of a complete loss of privacy and the right to informational self-determination and the resulting adaptation of people to the behaviour prescribed by the state as being in accordance with the standards. For whom the data is interesting and for whom not, you can make up your own mind, but the following is a fact: This data is a treat for every health care system. The more you document your health status and fitness level, the more people know about you and how your social security contributions or fees should be. You are definitely not drinking enough water! You have brought your kidney failure on yourself. You have an app that says you’re a smoker? It’s your own fault! You jog on hard asphalt! Your knee problems are a bit self-inflicted. More examples? like some more. You’re obviously driving more often than last year. Well, then your car insurance premiums should go up. Sure, now you’re a bigger risk to the environment. You went jogging in the park yesterday, a crime was committed in the haze of your running track. The offender fled and was smart enough not to take his cell phone with him. What do you think… do you think you’ll get a bell or not? The deliberate exaggeration makes it clear that the right to informational self-determination should be a high priority for everyone. Everyone knows the movie “enemy of the state” and everyone knows the happenings surrounding Edward Snowden. So are these questions really as far away as one would like to believe?
The solution is already there and it is called Blockchain
Of course you could say now, I delete all apps, throw away my mobile phone, work only with carrier pigeons and in general. All this is not necessary, even if you are aware of the potential dangers and the right to informational self-determination is very important for you. The keyword and the solution here is a blockchain. Currently, almost no apps use this technology. By the way, they are called DApps — decentralized application. There are many reasons for this. For one, many people lack an understanding of this rather complex technological process and its advantages. Others shy away from the rather high costs. Still others have existing programming, so that an adaptation to a blockchain seems either impossible or unnecessary. BeFaster does not shy away from all these potential obstacles and first builds a DApp in the sports and fitness sector with the help of a blockchain AND the promise never to share users’ data. But first to the technical explanation.
Blockchain as security for your data
IBM defines and describes what a blockchain is and why you should use it ( -> read here). For clarification purposes a quotation is taken out “Fraud, cyberattacks, and even simple mistakes add to the cost and complexity of doing business, exposing all participants in the network to risk if a central system — such as a bank (ed: or an app) — is compromised. This is exactly what it’s all about. A central system is vulnerable, a decentralized system is not. Since blockchain technology feels particularly at home in the financial market, many terms are also geared to this topic. However, this is far from being conclusive. If you want to understand what happens there, replace transaction by process. Adapted to the functionalities of the running and fitness app, this means that every registration, profile creation and change, every running route etc. would be stored unchangeably and securely. In the case of BeFaster, it goes one step further, as there are numerous additional functions within the DApp that the fitness market has not known before. Every challenge and its winner, every resulting coin win and every voucher won and redeemed, is unchangeably and stored in the blockchain. The blockchain is there to create trust between the parties and to protect the data, among other things. And exactly for this purpose it is currently still too seldom used.
Can a blockchain be hacked?
On 17 July 2020 there was a major hacker attack on Twitter. What does Cointelegraph say: Twitter Wouldn’t Be Hacked if It Were Backed by Blockchain Technology
Some reports on the net speak of hacking in the area of crypto currencies when it comes to whether blockchain can be hacked. But beware. If you take a closer look, you will quickly see that it is not the blockchain that is at stake, but the wallet, or tokens that were left on the exchange. Translated this means: if you stand at a counter in the bank and leave your wallet behind, it might happen that someone inserts it. But was the whole bank blown up because of that? To understand this, if you would like to know more, read Societe Generale.
Don’t confuse this with gaining control of a blockchain, such as the one used by Bitcoin, by taking over 50% of the producing block shares, as described in the article from technologyreview. However, this is different and more a theoretical than a practical problem. But again, to understand a metaphor: If you own the company that installs the doors, then you have the key to it and don’t have to break it down. In summary: No, the blockchain itself cannot be hacked, at least not according to the current scientific knowledge and the available computing power.
Can my account be hacked on a DApp?
Technologically it is possible that your personal mobile phone can be hacked. In the context of this question, however, it is not a bad thing. Why not? Because the hacker cannot read anything. Even if he hacked into your private account, he would only see incoherent codes. It’s a jumble of numbers that won’t tell him anything. Why is that? Because all operations that you and other users perform using DApp are stored in the blockchain. Imagine a piece of paper each time you do that. With every process a new one is added. The stack becomes infinitely high. Only the blockchain developer knows which sheets belong together and how they are decoded. Only you are the owner of the account and have unlimited access to all your information and decide which you want to share or change and which not.
BeFaster — Blockchain meets Sports
On May 24, 2020, Forbes published an article entitled Spending On Blockchain Solutions Could Surpass $16 Billion By 2023, which discusses the future of blockchain. The article focuses on various industries for which blockchain technology is predestined. One of them is fitness, where BeFaster is mentioned as a pioneer in this field. BeFaster not only combines Blockchain with sports, creates its own ecosystem in the area of sports, fitness, health, motivates users with a so far unique system for more exercise and sportiness and rewards users for this with its own crypto currency. Most importantly, however, BeFaster is decentralized and, unlike some of its competitors in the market, has explicitly stated its opposition to the sale of its users’ data. This is a company guarantee.