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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

#IoT, Big Data and Authenticity

Identity, Information Security, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
8:41 pm

Today, I read an interesting white paper, “Big Data in M2M: Tipping Points and Subnets of Things,” published by Machina Research. From the introduction:

This White Paper focuses on three hot topics in the TMT space currently: Big Data and the ‘Internet of Things’, both examined through the prism of machine-to-machine communications. We have grouped these concepts together, since Big Data analytics within M2M really only exists within the context of heterogeneous information sources which can be combined for analysis. And, in many ways, the Internet of Things can be defined in those exact same terms: as a network of heterogeneous devices.

The white paper does a good job of exploring the emerging trends of the Internet of Things, potential business opportunities and challenges faced.

As one could expect, “authenticity and security of different kinds of data,” was identified as a big challenge:

Big Data is about “mashing up” data from multiple sources, and delivering significant insights from the data. It is the combination of data from within the enterprise, from openly available data (for example, data made available by government agencies), from data communities, and from social media. And with every different source of data arises the issues of authenticity and security. Machina Research predicts that as a result of the need for data verification, enterprises will have a greater inclination to process internal and open (government) data prior to mashing-up with social media.

The following diagram shows the increase security risk as more data from external sources is collected and analyzed.


This yet another indicator of how Identity and Access Management will be critical in the successful evolution of the Internet of Things.

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So Much Information; So Little Time.

Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
8:48 am

In a bit of frustration recently, I thought about how much information I plow through each day and posted this tweet:



After thinking about that conundrum some more, I drew a graph like the one on the right on my whiteboard.  

As the available information in the world continues to expand geometrically, we are constrained by an absolutely finite resource – time.  To my knowledge, nobody’s days have grown longer recently.  Yet the amount of information we have at our disposal continues to tend towards infinity.

Big data analytics certainly attempts to deal with this challenge.  Ever more sophisticated tools sift through larger and larger piles of data, attempting to discover “Subtle Patterns and Relationships” that may have importance in our lives.

It as if we are attempting to grasp and understand the infinite from a finite frame of reference.

It reminded me of a profound statement from a very wise man: David O. McKay

Spirituality, our true aim, is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the Infinite. 

I doubt that the Infinite of which he spoke will be found in the near infinite pile of data in Facebook or Twitter, but it is food for thought.

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Report: Unlocking the Value of Personal Data

Information Security, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, March 25, 2013
6:16 pm


An interesting new report came to my attention today, “ Unlocking the Value of Personal Datra: From Collection to Usage,” published by the  World Economic Forum, prepared in collaboration with  The Boston Consulting Group.

Some statements from the executive summary that I like include:

Our world is changing. It is complex, hyperconnected, and increasingly driven by insights derived from big data. And the rate of change shows no sign of slowing.

… the economic and social value of big data does not come just from its quantity. It also comes from its quality – the ways in which individual bits of data can be interconnected to reveal new insights with the potential to transform business and society.

… fully tapping that potential holds much promise, and much risk.

… It is up to the individuals and institutions of various societies to govern and decide how to unlock the value – both economic and social – and ensure suitable protections

The report is organized as follows

  • Chapter 1: The World Is Changing
  • Chapter 2: The Need for a New Approach
  • Chapter 3: Principles for the Trusted Flow of Personal Data
  • Chapter 4: Principles into Practice
  • Appendix – Relevant Use Cases

It is particularly interesting to me that although there are numerous examples about the potential benefits of big data, there are huge challenges, and no easy fixes.  But the report is well written and provocative.  Well worth the time to read.

Plus as an added bonus, the report has some great pictures and graphics – a treat seldom seen in a report like this.  Here is my favorite – it seems to capture the spirit of the crazy world of privacy and security we are in right now.



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Big Data Analytics – Subtle Patterns and Relationships

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, March 14, 2013
8:55 am


A recent Wall Street Journal article, “When ‘Likes’ Can Shed Light,” stated:

Patterns of “Likes” posted by people on Facebook can unintentionally expose their political and religious views, drug use, divorce and sexual orientation …

My first response was, “Duh, of course!”  But I think the implications are much deeper.  A wide range of disparate conditions can be linked together to imply seemingly distant results.  For example:

“Likes” for Austin, Texas; “Big Momma” movies; and the statement “Relationships Should Be Between Two People Not the Whole Universe” were among a set of 10 choices that, combined, predicted drug use. 

“Likes” for swimming, chocolate-chip cookie-dough ice cream and “Sliding On Floors with Your Socks On” were part of a pattern predicting that a person didn’t use drugs.

What in the world do all those things have to do with each other?
The article suggests that this type of analysis …
… arises from an emerging discipline in which experts sift through extremely large digital data sets, such as collections of web searches or Twitter messages, for subtle patterns and relationships.
“Subtle Patterns and Relationships” is the key phrase.  In our highly connected world, we all leave digital breadcrumbs scattered about that are subject to this type of analysis.  Sophisticated data analytics will progressively be able to pinpoint behavior patterns and even predict behavior, based on relationships between seemingly disparate and unrelated bits of data.
Will this be used to do a better job of targeting advertising?  If so, that might be beneficial to vendors and consumers alike.
But could it be used for nefarious purposes – even harassment, stalking, exploitation or discrimination?  You bet.  We had best be careful out there.
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Big Data is Watching You

Identity, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
3:17 pm


Nishant Kaushik’s tweet today prompted some paranoid thoughts about the use of big data analytics.

Scary #Privacy News Day: Raytheon RIOT – http://t.co/FB4dsnjv AND Equifax selling Employer shared employee data – http://t.co/HZSeqN9E

The first article, “Software that tracks people on social media created by defense firm,” explored how Raytheon has developed a system to track us all:

A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites. …

“Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation’s rapidly changing security needs.”

The second article, “Your employer may share your salary, and Equifax might sell that data,” stated:

The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults.

These two articles triggered thoughts about Axciom

[Axciom] peers deeper into American life than the F.B.I. or the I.R.S., or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google. If you are an American adult, the odds are that it knows things like your age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, buying habits, household health worries, vacation dreams — and on and on. …

Few consumers have ever heard of Acxiom. But analysts say it has amassed the world’s largest commercial database on consumers — and that it wants to know much, much more. Its servers process more than 50 trillion data “transactions” a year. Company executives have said its database contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person. That includes a majority of adults in the United States.        

… and Lexis Nexis:

LexisNexis … is the largest data-broker in the world. They create vast profiles on people and use that information to create various reports that they sell to companies of all kinds. These reports are used to make decisions about renting, insurance and more. In the past these reports have been purchased by law enforcement and criminal organizations; all to find out more information about you.

Are there legitimate uses for all this data? Yes.  But is there potential for illicit exploitation and mis-use of that data?  I’d bet my bottom dollar on it.  The unintended consequences of amassing all this personal data are what worry me.

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Who is Securing Big Data?

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
5:25 pm

Capgemini recently released a report, “The Deciding Factor: Big Data & Decision making,” which states that:

“nine out of ten business leaders believe data is now the fourth factor of production, as fundamental to business as land, labor and capital.”


“Two-thirds of executives consider their organizations are ‘data-driven’, reporting that data collection and analysis underpins their firm’s business strategy and day-to-day decision-making.”

According to Gartner Inc.,

“Business executives and IT managers are increasingly referring to information as one of their organization’s most critical and strategic corporate assets. Certainly there is a sharp rise in enterprises leveraging information as a performance fuel, competitive weaponry and a relationship adhesive.”

This all begs the question, “If this data is so important to enterprises, what are they doing to really secure it?”

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