Mobility has become ubiquitous in communication. A given. People cannot picture themselves being physically restrained by a location to make a call, send an email, or engage in a chat session. Everyone has their smartphone with them at all times to connect to the world. Moreover, it also keeps people connected to work. The rise of mobile devices and cloud services has created a business communications landscape vastly different from the one at the turn of the century.
- Companies such as Google and Facebook that facilitate much of today’s communications keep stacks of data on users and use it to create behavioral profiles of people. Their end-goal is better-targeted advertising, but it comes at the price of privacy intrusion.
- Revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, the US, UK, and other allied governments have created worldwide mass surveillance schemes. They gather data about all online user communications, file it, and analyze it, without discriminating between suspects and non-suspects.
- The more recent FBI leaks provide a glimpse into the targeted surveillance arsenal of a top intelligence agency. The techniques used by the Bureau include zero-day exploits, malware attacks, and online hacking, which are capable of turning any smartphone or TV into a spying device, listening and watching the target’s every move.
- The techniques listed above are not the exclusive domain of governments and law enforcement. Cyber criminals have access to the same technology and use it to make a hefty profit off of breached personal and corporate records.
A private individual may argue their communications are of little importance. The old “I have nothing to hide, therefore I have nothing to worry about” argument. But a company cannot afford that way of thinking. In high-stake industries, information is a valuable commodity. A failure to protect information can have catastrophic consequences for business. Imagine a competitor getting hold of your trade secrets or plans?
A data leak is just as likely to take place through the device of an executive on a trip abroad, as it is to happen via the malware infected smartphone of an employee. To prevent this, people from across the corporate ladder should take measures.