Makook Special: What’s all the fuss about privacy and security?

June 5, 2015

Your privacy and the security of your information are, justifiably, something of great concern in this digital age. If you have these concerns, you are certainly not alone. 

A recent survey conducted by Fortinet (a global leader in high-performance network security) showed that users had mixed feelings about having a connected home device secretly or anonymously collecting information about them and being shared with others.

These concerns stem from both a fear of security breaches that could expose your personal information to illegal use, and from fear of the misuse of legally acquired personal information in pursuit of personal gains.

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Last November’s hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment for instance, gave the hackers access to the Social Security numbers of more than 47,000 current and former employees of Sony, along with Hollywood celebrities like Sylvester Stallone. The studio offered one year of free credit monitoring and fraud protection to current and former employees, but as with pirated movies and music, once data becomes available on file-sharing networks, it is virtually impossible to remove! 

In January 2015, Edith Ramirez, Chair of the US Federal Trade Commission, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said: “In the not too distant future, many, if not most aspects of our everyday lives will leave a digital trail.” She continued, “will this information be used to paint a picture of you that you won’t see but that others will?”

So, you have good reason to be concerned about how your privacy is protected and this largely comes down to the privacy policies and practices of the device and service that you choose.  But when faced with this plethora of ever expanding IT devices and services, all protecting themselves with impossible to read legal statements typed in gibberish and small characters, how should you choose? And what do these statements really mean?


Who’s Looking Out For Us?

Of course, you may argue, as a lay man I should not be expected to read and understand sophisticated fine print and contracts. Who protects me? What is my government doing to help?  What is anyone doing to help?

In response to these concerns, you will be pleased to note that the UAE, along with the US, EU countries and many more are part of a lengthy and growing list of countries which are slowly putting privacy laws into effect.  In January 2014, the European Commission unveiled a draft of the Proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation. Under this proposal companies found to be in violation could face fines of up to 2% of their annual revenue!

On the other end of the spectrum, is a more pragmatic approach by the former U.S. Deputy CTO, Nicole Wong, who was quoted saying: “The innovation around the ethical and appropriate use of technology is going to have to come from the technology sector. If you move fast enough, if you have best practices that the consumer world feels good about, then the government is not going to have an opportunity to create a regulation that is not in your favor”.

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What Should I Do?

Until the dust settles around these issues, it is very important that you are diligent about providers that act in your best interest, and if there were any fine prints to read, these would be reassurances that:

• Your personal information remains with you on your device, and the data interpretation logic is applied locally as opposed to a cloud logic that may expose you. 

• Data collected is summarized and anonymized.

• Data collected, is contained behind secured networks and is only accessible by a limited number of persons who have special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential.

• Encrypted formats within controlled and secured environments have restricted access, and all sensitive/credit information you supply is encrypted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.

• All credit card transactions are processed through a payment gateway provider. A strict rule to adhere to is to never have visibility or any archive of your credit card details.

When it comes to your privacy concerns, look for initial statements such as: “we collect only the personal information needed to provide the services we may offer with the quality you deserve”. Using the information about your usage of a product or service does not have to be frightening if the service provider is doing so correctly: Aggregate information, for example, which is collected anonymously about groups, does not identify an individual customer. 

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Peace of Mind

 

Using these guidelines, you are well on your way to the safety and security you need along with the freedom of using many of the coolest and latest innovations that “Smart Living” can provide to make your life more enjoyable, efficient and continue to open new worlds of possibilities.  At Makook Smart Living, your privacy and security is paramount in the delivery of Smart Living services to you.

Makook is connected; we provide the first managed service delivery platform to enable ubiquitous and simple access and interactions between people, data, services and devices.  This delivers what others have only promised: a truly seamless connected life where everyone and everything speak the same ‘digital language’ and interact in ways never possible before.

Makook is instrumented; we deliver entertainment, education, health and wellness, a private cloud, home security, automation, energy management, and enhanced communication services, all on a single managed platform.  From devices like mobile/smartphones, TVs, tablets and PCs to utilities like security systems, thermostats, and glucometers, everything lives on the same platform and speaks the same language. 

Makook is intelligent; we are not a technology company or even about technology. Instead, we are about bringing meaningful lifestyle experiences.

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by Ghassan Khayyat
Ghassan was tuned into the writing world on a transistor radio-wave of an unbeknownst frequency, once upon a daydream dreary. With a firm belief in Dr. Seussims and all things gadget and gizmo-tronic, he tinkers before he speaks, and chooses his words technologically. He is Editor for T3 Middle East’s Levant English publication and English website, and Associated Editor for the GCC English publication. Reach him at ghassan@t3me.com.