As customers and businesses realize the power and value of their data, issues around security and control become paramount. FinTech veteran and self-described ‘continuous mutant’, Mike Williams, CEO at Pushfor, talks about how pushing content rather than sending it reduces the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands to virtually zero.
We have heard a lot about some very large data breaches. Is this a feature of an increasingly digital world that we will need to come to accept in the same way that we realize crime in the physical world is impossible to eliminate?
The level of data breaches that we are seeing is undoubtedly because of the digital world we now live in and the sheer mass of data that is being generated literally every second. It is going to continue to explode as we become increasingly connected to the internet for every-day living in both our consumer and work lives (Internet of Things). IDC estimates that by 2020, business transactions (including both B2B and B2C) via the internet will reach up to 450 billion per day – so it is little wonder that cyberattacks are the new wave of crime driving identity theft and fraud.
However, I don’t think that as consumers we should just accept that this is a feature of the digital world. It is highly unlikely that cybercrime can be 100% eliminated but there is a lot that both consumers and organisations of all sizes can do to drastically reduce the risk and help create a safer world for individuals and businesses to thrive in.
Enterprises need to invest not just in cybersecurity technologies, but also in attracting the right people with the appropriate cybersecurity skills, internal education programmes to create awareness of cybercrime and regularly used techniques, such as phishing emails, for example, to reduce the risk of human error. They need to revisit internal business processes, so they are fit for the rapid digitization that is taking place in both the lives of consumers and enterprises assets.
Consumers need to take back control and responsibility for their data, and how it is shared and used. They need to ask more questions of the organisations that they consider trusted custodians of their data as to how it will be protected from potential cybercrime.
Do you think that GDPR will incentivize companies to act more responsibly and diligently with regards to customer data?
A fine of up to 4% of turnover or €20m, whichever is the larger, is undoubtedly an incentive. However, I don’t believe that GDPR alone is forcing companies to revisit how they manage customer data. It is worth mentioning that there are other data breaches, for example valuable IP and strategic Exec communications, that can also have a significant negative impact on an organization if leaked. That data may not be necessarily subject to GDPR.
I think reputational damage and the risk of losing customer trust and confidence are equally important drivers to ensuring customer data is handled securely and responsibly. The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica saga may be one of the most significant and controversial data breach incidents of all time – not necessarily because of any financial damage it caused to individuals or companies (other than Cambridge Analytica!) but because the way in which the data was used and the media attention that it attracted. It brought the topic of data protection and GDPR into millions of households around the world – it may be one of the most effective, albeit it unintentional, ‘data protection awareness’ campaigns ever known.
Consumers are now far more aware of the power and value of their data, why they need to take responsibility for the ways in which they share it and the increased expectations on organizations they trust and share it with to protect it and manage it accordingly. I think organizations that can demonstrate that they have the technologies, processes and internal education in place to protect customer data and are looking at ways in which they can add value to the customer by responsible use of their data, whilst doing everything they can to stay one step ahead of the hackers. will display a competitive edge and win consumer trust.
What are the challenges around unstructured data and how does Pushfor address it?
Unstructured data/content typically equates to up to 80% of enterprise content – it is often documents, spreadsheets, PDF’s etc that drive a business by sharing it internally, externally with clients and with a third-party supply chain. Typically, that content is always sent either as an email attachment or using some other file sharing solution.
Content can be encrypted, however, once sent control is lost and the recipient is the weakest link. The sender has no idea what the recipient will do with the content once received or, ultimately, how many digital content footprints it will make.
Pushfor addresses exactly this – when content is pushed, rather than sent, the original content remains secure at source so that only a single version exists. The recipient can quickly and easily view the content, from any device, which can be pushed with various security and viewing permissions and every interaction with that content is captured and tracked in an audit trail.
We also capture analytics on content usage, so the sender fully understands the value of the content. The sender can ‘pull back’ the content at any time, revoking all viewing access. We enable content authors to maintain full control of the content journey and provide the recipients with an optimum user experience, whilst ensuring maximum protection and security.
Does the configuration of pushing rather than sending mean that the days of the accidentally misdirected email are numbered (hint: please say yes)?
If content is pushed rather than sent via an email, then yes accidentally misdirected emails would be a thing of the past. If you push content to the wrong person then you simply pull it back – and as Pushfor prevents the recipient from forwarding, printing, sharing and screenshotting the content there is virtually zero risk of that content ending up where it shouldn’t! Email was never developed to be ‘secure by design’ and is simply not fit for purpose for sharing sensitive, confidential or high value content.
Do you think this approach will be widely adopted across the financial services sector?
Well I will be thrilled if it is! Financial Services organisations are considered a trusted custodian of our personal and company data. plus, they also have many internal use cases that require zero-risk of data breach – not just to comply with GDPR but to protect their reputation, their customers and ultimately their business.
Financial Services is also a leading sector in driving innovation and is continually looking at ways to improve the customer/user experience. We are starting to see some significant traction in Financial Services and believe that the sector is revisiting how content is securely shared considering the challenges and opportunities that this digital era presents. So, watch this space!
You have worked with some impressive people (Steve Jobs!) and companies across the tech sector. Are you a continuous disruptor?
I suppose I am. I have always had a philosophy, in life and work, to continuously question the current ways of thinking and to not be afraid of taking an unexplored or less obvious route.
It’s amazing what you find when if you get out of your comfort zone – and it’s so much more fun and rewarding when you do. I also really like any technologies that challenges a current way of thinking.
Many innovative technologies never reach their full potential, but some have a profound effect on our lives. The best disruptors I liken to mutations in the theory of evolution – as they create a sudden step change rather a natural selection of small, inherited variations.
So rather than a continuous disruptor, maybe you should describe me as continuous mutant!
We have recently been putting together the FinTECHTalents playlist. What song would you like to see added to the list?
This is any easy one! Salt ‘n Peppa – PUSH IT!