The global cyber attack that hit huge corporations worldwide and paralysed much of the UK’s National Health Service showed one thing above all – how easily centralised siloes of data can be rendered obselete.
The Wanna Decryptor ransomware attack, which is believed to have affected more than 200,000 systems in over 100 countries, making it the biggest in history, locked computers and systems before holding files hostage until a ransom was paid.
This had a massive impact on hospital trusts across the UK, which were unable to access patient data for treatment, meaning they were forced to send patients away and cancel appointments.
This was far from an attack aimed at the NHS, as some initially feared – but it did show its vulnerabilities – and not just in using older Microsoft computers that hadn’t been patched to cover known security issues.
Rather, it emphasised the loss of control that we all have over our personal data, when instead of having a copy ourselves, it is held in giant siloes controlled by others. And, which may or not be significant in this case, tend to prove to be very attractive honeypot targets for hackers because of the wealth of data they contain.
If we each had a copy of our own health data, the impact on the NHS would have been minimised dramatically. Anyone turning up for treatment or an appointment could have shown the relevant diagnostic and prescription history from within their digi.me app, presumably enabling further action to go ahead instead of mass cancellations.
And this is not just talk of a brave new world – it’s on the cusp of reality, with both a new version of our app and an exciting project demoing just this experience due to be announced within weeks.
The world will never be free of those who want to disrupt, harm and make money through nefarious means. But if we have control over our own data, through the principles of the Internet of Me, we take away a great deal of their power – certainly in their capacity to bring chaos to our lives.