All posts by Emma Firth

About Emma Firth

Journalist, writer and social media manager with a passion for all things digital.’s Julian Ranger featured in article on the future of digital identity

Julian Ranger,’s founder and Executive Chairman, has been featured in a recent edition of Luxembourg for Finance’s Leo Magazine, following a speaking slot at the Fintech Luxembourg event in March

In the text below, taken from the article, he outlines how he sees the emerging identity landscape developing and evolving in the future:

“We have always been multi-dimensional,” says digital identity entrepreneur Julian Ranger, whose vision is to rethink the data value exchange.

“The question is, are our financial services able to support that multi-dimensionality and work for me across all of those dimensions?”

How secure is data in your own hands?

Ranger is Chairman and Founder of, an app which lets you gather all your data together privately. It then enables you to share it with businesses, in return for value which might be a service, for convenience or a reward. This is called the Internet of Me, where you are at the centre of your digital life, owning and controlling your data.

“If you consider identity not to be just identification of data, but all the things that I do, then it’s a holistic through-life process, and you should be using digital identity by engaging directly with me and looking at me across all aspects of my life.

“Then you as a bank and then financial institution can help me in all my life decisions. It’s really about how you can get closer to me, know me better in a way that helps me, and gets a deeper level of engagement.”

Historically, financial institutions have been trying to obtain information about us and our activity through our records and what we might be able to buy and acquire from others.

Ranger predicts the future will be how much you engage directly with me and therefore know more about me.

“The change that is coming is that individuals will own their data so that you will see with PSD2, the second Payment Services Directive,which breaks down the bank’s monopoly on their user’s data, the ability for a person to move from one entity to another.

“But actually it can move from one entity back to the individual and then the individual can choose to share it, and you can go directly to the individual, to get what we would call “richer data”, because it’s not just financial data you can now ask for, you will ask for health data, purchase data, intent, where people have been and get a much better idea.”

NHS Deepmind and the need for transparency in personal data use

The NHS Deepmind deal has been heavily criticised by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for serious privacy erosion that fell foul of the Data Protection Act

The deal, which shared NHS patient data of 1.6m people with Google’s AI company Deepmind, had “several shortcomings” including that patients were not adequately informed that their data would be used as part of the tests on an app designed to diagnose serious kidney injury.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said in a statement: “There’s no doubt the huge potential that creative use of data could have on patient care and clinical improvements, but the price of innovation does not need to be the erosion of fundamental privacy rights.

“Our investigation found a number of shortcomings in the way patient records were shared for this trial. Patients would not have reasonably expected their information to have been used in this way, and the Trust could and should have been far more transparent with patients as to what was happening.

“We’ve asked the Trust to commit to making changes that will address those shortcomings, and their co-operation is welcome. The Data Protection Act is not a barrier to innovation, but it does need to be considered wherever people’s data is being used.”

Deepmind has admitted that: “We were almost exclusively focused on building tools that nurses and doctors wanted, and thought of our work as technology for clinicians rather than something that needed to be accountable to and shaped by patients, the public and the NHS as a whole. We got that wrong, and we need to do better.”

There are two fundamental lessons here – and they will be applicable going forward as they are today.

The first is that privacy and innovation can live hand-in-hand. Access to better quality data is a huge boon for innovation across all sectors, but it has to be permissioned and not just handed over. That’s a fundamental human right of the people involved, as well as best practice for ensuring fully accurate data that has the most value. Greater transparency benefits us all.

The second is that users need to be in control of their data, not third parties. This is how situations like this are avoided – by giving individuals control over the data that is about, or created by, them.

In the world, it then becomes their choice, and theirs alone, what happens to that data. And that’s exactly as it should be.

MEF Global Consumer Trust study 2017: all hail the rise of the savvy user

We need to decentralise personal data stores. And we need to do it now

Another month, another huge cyber attack taking out huge numbers of businesses and organisations across the world.

The spread of this new ransomware attack is slower than last month’s Wannacry one, which paralysed large sections of the UK’s National Health Service.

But it is still causing problems for major companies, including many in the Ukraine which has been hit particularly hard this time around.

The data is being held to ransom, reportedly for the reasonably small amount of $300, but it’s unclear at the time of writing what the overall motive is.

But what is clear – glaringly so – is that these kinds of attacks will keep wiping out sections of society and large servers while huge troves of very valuable data are held centrally.

In the same way that banks are attractive to thieves for the wealth of month they contain under one roof, servers rammed with personal data are like honeypots for criminals looking to get hold of information they can use and abuse.

The obvious answer is to decentralise that data: no mass of information in one place would surely equal a vastly reduced hacking risk. Not to mention a reduction in the costs of storing and (at least attempting to) secure it in the first place.

And of course the individual would be the main beneficiary – owning, controlling and securing their own data through platforms like, under the Internet of Me vision.

It’s coming, it makes sense – and soon the rest of the world will catch up with those of us who already believe.

Guest post: What is Ransomware and how can I protect my system?

You may have seen this cyber threat in recent news with organisations being hit by a new wave of computer hacking that takes data and files for ransom. So what is ransomware? In simple terms this type of cyber hacking comes in the form of a virus designed to hold your files and data to ransom in turn for a sum of money. This type of virus like many others sees potential security vulnerabilities in your system and exploits them. This type of threat may trick you into installing the virus through software downloads or sending malicious links / files via email which when deployed, then proceeds to encrypt various data on a machine or even an entire hard drive. A warning will then popup on screen which will threaten the user to pay up to receive the decryption key otherwise after a specific period, their data will be deleted.

A computer virus that blackmails you

This type of computer virus has been more frequent in the past few years. The most well-known example in recent weeks saw the UK’s National Health Service get hit by the ransomware virus known as WannaCry but this was not an isolated incident, as organisations globally were attacked in a short space of time, which calls for everyone to be extra vigilant especially when downloading from unknown sources. For the most part, these ransomware viruses are hidden behind popular apps, which increase the chance of you clicking through to download. It’s not just PCs that have been affected by this cyber attack, hackers have become sophisticated in their techniques and warnings about mobile app downloads have been highlighted.

So how does ransomware work?

Like many cyber attacks, ransomware often comes from emails or conspicuous software updates. In these emails you’ll find a link or an attachment to open, be warned, as the damage starts in being opened. The ransomware soon gets to work encrypting your files and then locks the computer down, with a fee to retrieve everything.

How can I avoid a ransomware attack?

The message for anyone concerned about cyber attacks is to avoid opening anything suspicious or unexpected. Some emails can look very convincing, some often concealing the real sender, so be extra careful when clicking on links and attachments especially from sources that you do not know.

My system has been attacked is there anything I can do to avoid paying the ransom?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to open an email with the ransomware virus and you’ve proceeded to click a link or download an attachment, there may be some things you can do to retrieve your files before handing over any cash to the perpetrators. Firstly check your backups. This is especially important to companies as large amounts of data can fall quickly at the hands of the hackers with the potential of never being able to retrieve it. If your backup is recent and relevant, this can then be recovered. You may experience some downtime and a minor amount of data loss but this backup could be crucial in restoring as much of your original data as possible before the attack.

Another thing to remember is avoid paying the hackers. When you’re in panic mode and fears about your cyber security are running high, it may seem an easy option to pay them and get back the access to your system. This could potentially open you up to future threats as paying the hackers offers them an olive branch for future blackmailing. In some cases, all paying the hackers has done is let them know that you are willing to pay them to gain access back to your data and then they just increase their demands and just get as much as they can out of you.

So, can I decrypt my encrypted files?

It is strongly advised to see a professional expert in this field because attempting this yourself is a tricky procedure and if anything goes wrong, it could completely lock you out of your data for good.

How can I protect my system and data?

Back up

One of the first and most important things in preventing data loss in any circumstance is backing everything up. This should also be on a separate system and happen on a regular basis. A good location is onto an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the internet.

Be suspicious of emails, unfamiliar websites and mobile apps

This is another important prevention method that is communicated regularly. For ransomware to work, you need to download it, so be wary of any attachment or links in emails that you look suspicious and where you do not know the sender. For mobile, avoid downloading apps that haven’t be verified by an official store and be sure to read any reviews before installing on your phone.

Use decent and usually paid anti-virus software

This handy piece of software is a great prevention method when protecting your computer against a range of threats. Most antivirus programs are able to detect ransomware before downloading them and give you warnings about malicious websites before you start exploring them. Be warned though, a lot of ransomware can go undetected by free anti-virus software, it is worth investing in a decent anti-virus program that could save your business big-time in the long-run.

Install recommended updates on your computer

We all know the drill and that pesky message telling us to install the latest updates, well this is an important and easy way to keep your system updated with the latest security patches. It’s advisable to download them when they are available and for larger companies, this should be an important part of your system management to protect company data.

Now Apple gets it too – the importance of owning your own health data

The importance of owning your personal data on your terms is of critical importance to us here at

And health data is front and centre of that, which is why we have just launched a living lab in Iceland, allowing citizens there to download an electronic version of their health record. Exciting stuff and a world first – but mainly incredibly useful for all sorts of reasons.

Holding your own data so you can do more with it guides everything we do, so we were delighted that Apple is apparently working along the same lines as us.

According to this report: “CNBC has learned that a secretive team within Apple’s growing health unit has been in talks with developers, hospitals and other industry groups about bringing clinical data, such as detailed lab results and allergy lists, to the iPhone, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the team. And from there, users could choose to share it with third parties, like hospitals and health developers.”

As with, the applications for work like this are legion, ranging from simply having all your health data at your fingertips whenever you need it, to speeding up information sharing between different medical organisations and cutting out major time and frustrations for referrals.

The health service is ripe for reform, and health data is at the centre of that. So any work done in this arena is a boost to all, with the potential for truly universal benefits.


Demonstrating consent access at the BNP Paribas international hackathon in Paris was delighted to attend BNP Paribas’s International Hackathon Weekend, which took place in ten cities around the globe simultaneously.


We were part of Paris event, where challenges included finding solutions to common banking problems, and chose to try and solve the problem of authenticating documentation on demand


Our solution told the story of Jean, who is trying to buy a new car in a hurry but has yet to sort out any financing.


No problem! Normally that would take ages, but in our scenario his bank, BNP, is working with, which streams in all his data sources. Now he is in control of his online life and can share his data with any party he wants


So Jean requests a quote from his BNP mobile banking app. BNP will need to see some of his personal data, so the app triggers a consent certificate to Jean’s account, stating what is being shared and why, and whether it is GDPR compliant. The data is then retrieved from Jean’s library, passed to BNP and run through their pricing engine. So far, so good.


Eligibility is checked and an offer sent in real time – but – small problem – it is conditional on seeing Jean’s ID. To meet this challenge, we provided a functionality for Jean to upload a picture of his passport to his Document Vault, where the data is automatically read, stored and shared with the bank, as well as authenticated.

The loan approval document is sent and Jean receives confirmation on his phone.

No more waiting for days or even minutes. Simply real time

Simple, scalable and secure. It’s proven. Welcome to the world of sharing. Welcome to allowing Icelandic citizens to download their own health data in world first’s unique personal data technology has allowed Iceland to become the first country in the world to make a digital copy of their health data available to its citizens.

The app is powering this innovative and collaborative living lab project, with the aim of giving users greater insight and control over their health and treatment, through having instant access to their own information which is stored in a secure, private library on their devices.

Open to every Icelander, this new initiative follows an Open Notes study with more than 13m participants in the US that showed simply giving access to health data leads to healthier living and reduced healthcare spending, through empowering patients and building stronger relationships with medical professionals.

Data including prescriptions and medications, vaccinations, allergies and medical admissions will be available to citizens who take part in the living lab instantly, and the project has the full support of the country’s Directorate of Health (DoH), which worked with local companies to develop an API to integrate with

A DoH spokesman said: “We hope that helping our citizens take more control over their health will have positive benefits for both them and our healthcare system as a whole.”

The living lab, which is a test bed prior to roll-out to other countries, is run by’s partner Dattaca Labs. Iceland was chosen because it is an exceptionally privacy-aware, tech-savvy and forward-looking nation, and the living lab environment will be used to further develop the app, as well as promote Iceland as an ideal incubator environment for businesses looking to test new products.

Julian Ranger, Founder and Executive Chairman of, said: “This is a significant moment for us at, but more importantly for individuals who will now be in control of their data and can gain more benefits from it.

The personal data ecosystem that results also benefits businesses, Government and society as a whole, and Iceland will lead the way in showing these benefits to a watching world wanting a privacy-enabled solution that allows us all to do more with personal data.”

Financial data will soon also be available for those in the living lab to download, thanks to major Icelandic banks also seeing the value of unlocking the power of personal data, with wearables data also coming imminently. has been making headlines for its personal data tool, which under a new release due shortly will allow additional data streams to be added, and shared with businesses for personalised rewards and services under a bespoke Consent Access process. It last year completed a Series A raise, where investors included Swiss Re and Omidyar Network.

Dattaca Labs is working with government and local Icelandic businesses and multi-nationals to create innovative services across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, finance and telecommunications. Its goal is to attract a wide range of companies and entrepreneurs to Iceland to develop innovative solutions in the health tech, fin tech and IoT spaces.

NHS cyber attack shows perils of not holding our own personal data

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 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.