Data Privacy

Friend Finder massive personal data breach shows why French mega database is a bad idea

Personal details from 412 MILLION accounts registered on the adult Friend Finder Network have been leaked in one of the biggest data breaches so far seen.

Dwarfing the number of users affected by the Ashley Madison and MySpace leaks, and second only to the 500m accounts leaked in the 2014 Yahoo attack that only recently came to light, this breach saw information including email addresses and passwords released.

The attack, which took place last month, was Friend Finder Network’s second attack in under two years, making it clear just how inviting and attractive targets with huge honeypots of data can be.

This is one reason why the mega personal data base France is planning, which will hold personal information on the 60 million people living there who hold a French identity card or passport, is a bad idea, particularly for privacy.

Aimed at decreasing identity theft, the rationale behind it is hard to criticise – but the execution is flawed.

As shown by the WhatsApp/Facebook data sharing change, the stated aim of anything is not always how it ends up – and French people should, rightly, be concerned about how intrusive this could be if other datasets were added in the future.

It is clear that anywhere holding huge amounts of data makes themselves a target for hackers – and the information held is inevitably vulnerable, threatening individual privacy.

So much better, as in the Internet of Me vision, for each individual to be the holder and controller of their own data, able to share it as and when needed on their terms.

Not only does this put the personal back in personal data, and mean we are each back in control of the information which we create, but companies and governments then need to ask for rather than take it without our permission.

Additionally, and to the benefit of all, these huge honeypots of data are also diminished.

Information is powerful – and we all need to do everything to keep our own secure – including working towards a better plan for personal data storage generally in the future.