Our Data, Our Digital Goldmine

By Robertas Višinskis, CEO and Founder of Mysterium Network

Despite being at the peak of technological advancement and at a turning point in the growth of the internet, consumers are enticed with more opportunities than ever before for their data to be compromised.

Last year, the European Union (EU) took steps in the right direction, introducing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in a bid to govern data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU. Despite this, 2018 saw some of the most high-profile data breaches in history, most notably the data privacy scandal involving social media behemoth Facebook and voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica, who improperly shared the data of up to 87 million users.

People often do not think twice when signing up for social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, or using our data to book a holiday, buy clothes online, or sign up for free WiFi. Yet every time we do, we are subconsciously creating and giving away digital imprints of ourselves.

Data breaches are occurring ever more frequently: Facebook’s recent data breach exposed the private photos of 6.8 million users and in December the Marriott Hotels Group became the latest victim of hackers, who carried out one of the largest data breaches in history, accessing the personal information of millions of guests of the hotel chain dating as far back as 2014.

These data breaches lay bare the wider deficiencies in data security, and highlight the implications these breaches have on customers’ privacy and businesses’ reputations, which begs the question of who the real victims and culprits are when hackers gain unauthorized access to user data.

Consumers are cottoning on and with the threat from cyber attacks now regarded as one of the biggest threats modern day businesses face, companies are increasingly taking steps to protect the personal data of their customers. Off the back of these rising concerns, a survey carried out by SAS revealed the majority (67%) of U.S. consumers are willing and open for new, stricter data privacy regulations to be rolled out.

A new type of customer demands a new type of security

With companies expected to generate 40 zettabytes of data by 2020, this then leads to the question of how exactly this collected data will be used. Organizations that invest in capturing consumer data generate 85% higher sales growth than those who don’t, meaning companies are able to use this data to generate value in multiple ways. By capturing consumer data, companies can understand what consumers are purchasing, how long they are staying on a website, and other interactions with customer service. This data provides a unique insight into the minds of customers, ultimately driving business operations and allowing companies to continually adapt to the changing needs of the consumer base.

With the number of interconnected devices set to reach 20 billion in 2020, we live in an increasingly interconnected world, but data collected is still centrally stored, creating single points of failure and general mistrust. Technology is continuously evolving, and so too is the sophistication with which hackers are gaining control of users’ data illegally. Cyber attacks are now considered the most prominent business risk, and companies need to be taking significant steps to store — and more importantly, safeguard — data.

However, despite companies understanding the increasing risk of a cyber attack, over 70% of companies aren’t adequately prepared and lack the technical solutions and best practice standards to prevent a breach. Prevention of a data breach should be front of mind for every company, regardless of size and customer base. Companies need to operate under the expectation of an impending cyber attack and prepare for the worst possible outcome, as the most severe attacks are reportedly yet to come. It’s vital to understand the technical and human points of vulnerability within a company and the urgency in their existential threat.

What are companies currently doing to mitigate the risk of a cyber attack?

Currently, only 21% of small-to-medium sized US businesses believe they have adequate IT security to minimize a potential threat. Through the use of emerging technologies, such as AI, blockchain and cloud, companies can start to improve their cyber security. Cloud computing can minimize the damage caused by a cyber attack, and allow companies to focus on the business risk, thus spending less time reacting to threats. Cloud adoption has also been increasing over the last year, with more companies understanding and reaping the benefits. Companies will never be 100% protected from cyber attacks, but by using a number of interconnected technologies, the risk can be reduced.

Companies can also look to decentralize their data through the use of blockchain technology — the next step needed to protect and value our personal data. Decentralization will mean our data isn’t stored in a centralized platform belonging to a third party intermediary, but through the use of decentralized technologies such as blockchain, which will be owned by its original creators.

Educating users on their rights, and the measures they are taking to protect their personal data, is the first step for companies looking to regain trust following a data hack. Integrating cutting-edge solutions focused on security and privacy in their backend and sharing this with their communities will allow businesses to maintain their competitive edge and retain customers.

While the complete solution hasn’t arrived yet, companies are acknowledging the need to address this business risk and to keep personal data safe. New technologies will continue to emerge, and companies should be looking to bring these together and improve the current ecosystem.

About Mysterium Network:

Mysterium Network — the world’s first decentralized VPN project — is an open source, not-for-profit foundation that is reinventing internet privacy, security, and freedom. The project is building a distributed, trustless, and sustainable network, providing open access and privacy to all internet users.

Mysterium Network is a fast and scalable transport security layer which uses multi-hops, relays, and an inbuilt micropayments tokenomic model to build a peer-to-peer, serverless network, designed to provide privacy restoring techniques to its users and financial incentives to its node operators/providers.

Mysterium Network achieves this goal by utilizing the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts, as well as advancing their features with state channels, combined with censorship evasion protocols developed by the community acting as applications of the network.

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About Robertas Višinskis:

Robertas Višinskis is the Founder and CEO of Mysterium Network, an open source, not-for-profit foundation focused on security and privacy, and the world’s first decentralized VPN blockchain project.

With over 13 years of experience in IT, Robertas was previously CEO and CTO of Trustribe, which helped peer-to-peer companies attract and engage more visitors to their websites, as well as built unified e-reputation management platforms. He was also CTO and Head of Product Design at Meta Group, where he was responsible for market analysis, customer discovery, UX design and product implementation.

Robertas holds an Executive MBA in International Innovative Management from Kaunas University of Technology, the largest technological university in the Baltics and a leading Lithuanian university for Management Master’s degrees.

He currently serves as an advisor to blockchain projects Edgeless, Monetha, Iungo, and Birdchain.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.