The data industry has a pipe problem and it needs to be fixed

The data industry has a pipe problem and it needs to be fixed

By: Cortland J. Fondon

When people think about data leakage, they often think about the types of massive data breaches that have occurred on a regular basis with some of the largest retailers in the world for the last several years. One of the most notable was Target, which had a data breach that went undetected for several weeks during the fall of 2013. Because that breach was still active during Black Friday, which just so happens to be the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, millions of citizens had their sensitive information leaked to a group of malicious individuals. The breach ended up costing Target hundreds of millions of dollars and severely damaged its reputation in the process.

Data issues are not only limited to these types of giant retailers, however. The data industry itself has a significant problem that needs to be addressed moving forward. Data leakage is defined as the loss of sensitive information due to some type of intrusion on a network. It isn’t limited specifically to incredibly compromising information like social security numbers, bank account information and passwords. Even the leak of the type of information that advertisers collect on a regular basis could put millions of people all over the country in a terrible position.

The types of information that are collected in programmatic advertising campaigns are commonly stored on secure servers. When you take a look at what this information actually is, it’s easy to see why. Programmatic campaigns collect information about purchase histories, prior Internet activities, frequented websites, frequented online retailers and more. Even though a hacker or other person with malicious intentions might not be able to use that information to get into a user’s bank account and steal all of their money, they can still use it for a wide variety of other troubling purposes.

Though the information is being stored on “secure” servers, it isn’t enough. One of the most common causes of data leakage in the data industry is through unauthorized application use, for example. Misuse of business computers, unauthorized network access, the security of remote workers and even a general misuse of passwords have all contributed to data leakage in businesses all over the world. These are all largely human errors. They aren’t hackers breaking into networks using the latest that technology has to offer. They are largely employees making mistakes. These mistakes need to be rectified.

The data industry has a significant pipe problem that needs to be fixed moving forward. Because advertisers are collecting more and more sensitive information about customers in an attempt to serve up better ads and create the optimal user experience, they are putting these customers in an incredibly vulnerable position at the same time. If this type of information is going to be collected on a regular basis, the burden is on the industry as a whole to plug these leaks and to keep their customers as protected as possible moving forward.

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