Introducing Data Confidential

In 1952, Robert Harrison introduced Confidential Magazine, a precursor to modern-day tabloids featuring the misdeeds of pop culture celebrities. The magazine made its reputation by promising readers inside information about their favorite stars. The magazine hit upon a winning formula by combining a few well-established facts with plenty of speculation and innuendo, all delivered in a breezy, conversational style that became the publication’s trademark.

You might be wondering what data protection has in common with a Hollywood scandal rag. Surely securing personal information against unauthorized use and disclosure deserves a little more levity. Certainly, people take their privacy very seriously, as evidenced by the recent furor Evernote unleashed when it announced that technicians would access user notes to improve the software’s machine learning capabilities. Faced with mass defections from its customers, Evernote did a quick about-face and reversed the privacy policy, assuring customers it will only access data if users give explicit consent.

Data breaches also generate big headlines and sometimes a little scandal as well. The infamous Ashley Madison hack exposed the personal information—including real names, credit card information, personal addresses, and search histories—of almost 6 million individuals, not to mention exposing millions of would-be philanderers to public scrutiny. The Sony breach of 2014 created major headaches for the studio, which initially canceled release of the Seth Rogan/James Franco comedy The Interview due to security concerns. Among the tidbits exposed by the hack was Scott Rudin’s email characterization of Angelina Jolie as a “minimally talented spoiled brat” in an exchange with Sony exec Amy Pascal. The revelation led to one of my all-time favorite celebrity photos—a frosty exchange between Pascal and a less-than-impressed Angelina Jolie.

While it’s tempting to focus on the sensational aspects of data breaches, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to high-profile hacks. The alleged Russian hacking of DNC emails during the 2016 election cycle discredited the Democratic Party, led to the ousting of chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and may have cost Hilary Clinton the chance to become the United States’ first female president. The high stakes of data protection warrant serious coverage, but that doesn’t mean the coverage has to be dry or boring. Data Confidential covers trending topics in data security and privacy, but strives to do so in an entertaining way. The site’s title, which alludes to the tension between the private nature of confidential information and the very public consequences of inadequate data security and privacy breaches, offers a perfect illustration of Data Confidential’s approach to its subject matter.

In the unpredictable world of data security and privacy, the only certainty is constant change, so fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.


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