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 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.

Search everywhere, find anything with digi.me

We’ve all had those moments where you KNOW you saved or shared that perfect recipe, article, item, life hack etc – but can’t for the life of you remember when or where.

Enter digi.me to the rescue – not only does our app gather all your data in one place, our clever universal search means you can look through everything at once, instead of one platform at a time.

You can put as wide or narrow a filter on as needed – watch our video below to see how!

You can find more videos about the app, the digi.me team and our vision on our YouTube channel.

Personal data – the fuel of the future?

Is Data really the world’s most valuable resource, the oil of its day?

That’s the scenario being posited as the lead story on the front page of The Economist – and what this titan of financial publishing and thought says, others listen to.

Of course, here at digi.me we have long been big believers in the power of data to transform and innovate, for individuals, businesses, society and even governments.

But we also know we’re riding the front of a wave, to some degree waiting for the world to catch up with us about the importance of both protecting and owning the elements that make up your very own, very personal digital footprint.

Thankfully, the importance of personal data is an issue that is pushing itself more and more to the forefront of discussion and awareness with every passing month. Incoming EU legislation, the GDPR, which has a great focus on individual power over personal data, will also force more conversations and visibility ahead of its implementation in a year’s time.

But the main Economist article and associated briefing is a great primer for those hoping to get up to speed on this important issue, straddling as it does the middle line between data’s power and the issues misuse of it can cause.

For example, it is clear that: “Data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change. Flows of data have created new infrastructure, new businesses, new monopolies, new politics and—crucially—new economics.

“Digital information is unlike any previous resource; it is extracted, refined, valued, bought and sold in different ways. It changes the rules for markets and it demands new approaches from regulators.

“Many a battle will be fought over who should own, and benefit from, data.”

But it also adds: “There is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy”. A new approach is needed.”

Its clarity, too, on what has fuelled this new approach: “What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable.” adds to its authority – this is a well-researched article, and all the more enjoyable for that.

It is a wide-ranging and very thorough piece, looking at all elements of the data economy (not just personal) and in particular what should be done with the Amazons, Googles and Ubers who own, or have access, to huge swathes of it.

Specifically looking at the personal data economy, it speaks of consumers and online giants being “locked in an awkward embrace…but…also showing symptoms of what is called “learned helplessness”: terms and conditions for services are often impenetrable and users have no choice than to accept them (smartphone apps quit immediately if one does not tap on “I agree”).”

It adds: “For their part, online firms have become dependent on the drug of free data: they have no interest in fundamentally changing the deal with their users. Paying for data and building expensive systems to track contributions would make data refiners much less profitable.”

Once again, we couldn’t agree more with this analysis of the current state of data trading – but we are confident that the Internet of Me, and the data revolution that platforms such as digi.me which operate under its principles will bring, are a full and proper solution to these issues. And moreover, a solution that is set to take the world by storm.

Digi.me named as finalist in the Citi Tech for Integrity Challenge

Digi.me is delighted to have been chosen as a finalist in the Citi Tech for Integrity Challenge, which is searching for innovative and workable solutions to key problems in the financial and governmental sectors.

Our bid, showcasing digi.me as a product that can help deal with challenges as diverse as corporate governance, anti-money laundering and identity validation, has now passed through two rounds and been shortlisted for a demo day in Dublin later this month.

Here, we will showcase a demo version showing multiple streams of data being uploaded to the app, with innovations addressing the specific ‘pain points’ being shared in presentation format.

These include using technology to analyse and identify patterns of fraudulent health insurance claims, and leveraging emerging technologies such as blockchain to create digital identities for the large population of people, such as refugees, who do not have legal identity papers.

Julian Ranger, digi.me Founder and Executive chairman, said: “Digi.me has always been a platform that will benefit both individual users and those that need to access consented data, and we know there are multiple and important use cases for it in society at large, over and above enabling the global population to take ownership of their own data.

“In these instances, it can enable much higher effectiveness and efficiency in distribution of services to people in distress. Respect of privacy between individuals and organisations is of utmost importance. With digi.me, users’ privacy is of the highest priority.”

At the demo day, digi.me will demonstrate how our product can be used to:

  • enable governments to efficiently and effectively identify refugees who have had to flee their home countries without identification papers. Their digi.me account is effectively an audit trail of their online life and therefore a way to identify both them and their circumstances, as well as reducing costs and waiting times for immigration departments.

  • enable insurance companies to reduce insurance fraud, with a knock-on effect of reducing insurance premiums for consumers

  • enable governments and NGOs to identify the correct individual recipient of any offered support, using their digi.me account to validate who they are and audit what was received. This method could be used for goods, vouchers or financial support whether beneficiaries are present or not.

Digi.me, which has focused largely to date on social media content, is undergoing a major update in the next few weeks which will see the ability to add financial and health data, with more categories of data becoming available over the next months. This update also sees the first public release of digi.me’s Consent Access capability which allows third parties to build apps requesting individual’s to share their data – five such apps are already in production.

The demo will be shown to judges including Colin Moreland, Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions Country Head, David Burrows, MD, Microsoft’s Intl Organizations, Ken Moore, Head of Mastercard Labs, and Yolande Piazza, Citi’s CEO of Consumer Fintech.

Digi.me joins EEMA

Digi.me is delighted to announce that it has joined EEMA,  the leading independent not for profit, European think tank focussing on identification, authentication, privacy, risk management, cyber security, the Internet of Things and mobile applications.

Julian Ranger, digi.me’s Executive Chairman, who founded digi.me in 2009 and is regarded as an pioneer in the field of privacy and personal data, will give a keynote address at EEMA’s Annual Conference ‘Privacy vs Identity – Opportunities and Challenges’, which takes place in London on July 4 and 5.

Chair of EEMA, Jon Shamah said: “We are excited to welcome digi.me to EEMA.

“Its platform has the potential to be a gamechanger in how people manage their personal digital data and use it to collaborate and transact with commercial entities and government organisations.”

Mr Shamah added: “With innovations such as digi.me coming to market, it is no surprise that the EEMA membership is expanding all across Europe, as organisations see us as the ideal vehicle from which to build their networks and explore commercial opportunities throughout the EU and beyond.”

EEMA’s series of high level fireside briefings in Brussels and London also provide the ideal forum for industry leaders to tackle controversial hot topics in an intimate, invitation only setting.

For more information about EEMA membership visit: https://www.eema.org/membership 






Evolution of a personal data start-up: the digi.me story

Digi.me has come a long way since 2009 – but how did our personal data journey of discovery begin?

It started life, as so many businesses do, as a lightbulb moment during a conversation our founder, Julian Ranger, was having with a board member at his innovation hub iBundle.

That colleague had a friend who had just lost three years’ worth of Facebook data after a glitch wiped his account while he was changing his password.

A conversation about what a shame it was to lose all those posts, photos and comments quickly turned into the realisation that there was nothing out there to help people back up their social media – so he decided there and then to create an app that did just that.

So SocialSafe (our original name) was born –  – a great and easy-to-use social media tool that allowed you to save information and pictures you had posted to your various social media accounts and search them and see the original comments and likes. Users could also make their own collections of content and export what they wanted, see their most popular posts and followers and much more!

Crucially, an early and key decision was for this data to be stored locally on the user’s own device, not on our company servers, ensuring privacy.

Julian hired a company to build the app, and it started getting users and traction, as well as some press from big industry names like Mashable and Hermione Way.

But, Julian being the entrepreneur he is, his attention was largely on other products and so this new app was little more than a hobby for the first year.

But then users started asking if we could include Twitter as well, and then if they could somehow view all of this data that they had gathered – and so we built a viewer that normalised and aggregated all the data together so you could look back across all your posts and photos across networks.

Next came the ability to search by date with the journal functionality, meaning you could find out what you posted on any given day across all your linked networks.

Demand came from users for back-ups for other social media networks as well, so we started adding the functionality for Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Viadeo and many more – and suddenly it became clear there was massive demand for this kind of service, where people could get their data back somewhere they could see it and then use it how they wanted.

For Julian, the defining moment came when he realised that what SocialSafe was doing was similar to what he had done for the military for 20+ years – bringing disparate data from multiple sources together, normalising and aggregating it and making it available for reuse.

With this lightbulb moment, SocialSafe started moving development towards the direction we are focused on now – which is gathering the data for the benefit of the user, but also helping them do more with it – and in the process help businesses desperate for accurate data to use for innovation and personalisation purposes too.

In 2013, Julian decided to focus full-time on building digi.me as a business, as it was clear that how people viewed personal data and how they felt about companies taking and using it for their own means was undergoing a seismic shift. He saw – as we all do – our app as an obvious solution to those privacy and data concerns.

Digi.me won the Le Prix d’Argent at the Le Web start-up competition later in the year from more than 700 entrants, and over time our Consent Access model, which is due to be released within weeks, allowing users to share their data on their terms in return for service, convenience or reward, was developed and evolved.

This impending expansion saw us change our name from SocialSafe, which was well-known but really related only to the (excellent) social media back-up element, to digi.me, which reflects the whole-person-and-life-data tool it will soon be.

Things began to snowball in 2015 as we started looking to the future, and what the personal data economy would look like in another five years. It was clear to us that there had to be a cultural shift, from individuals having things done to their data but unable to access it themselves, to becoming the centre of their connected world, back in control of their data and able to use it as they wished. That is the Internet of Me – and it is the future of the personal data economy.

Our new app will retain its social media back up and aggregation functions, but users will also be able to add their own data from other areas of their life, starting first with financials and health, and then moving on to other such as shopping.

The Consent Access aspect will then allow businesses, who want access to these rich, deep datasets that our users will soon hold, to approach them directly and offer them personalised offers in exchange for seeing some slices of that data.

Our product and profile continues to go from strength to strength, with partnerships with Lenovo, Western Digital and Evernote among others, and other exciting developments with major players in various industries including health, insurance, banking, telcos and FMCG.

So we’re very excited for the future and what it will bring – both for digi.me and ultimately for the benefit of all of our users and partners.


68 per cent of consumers think brands put their personal data at risk

New research shows that the majority of consumers don’t trust brands with their personal information, even as they desire more personalised experiences and services.

According to the 2017 State of Consumer Privacy and Trust survey from Gigya, two-thirds — 68 per cent — of consumers are concerned about how brands use their personal data.

A similar number (69 per cent) worry about security and privacy risks inherent in the increasing adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as fitness trackers, smart watches and connected cars.

Gigya’s survey, which polled more than 4,000 adults across the US and UK, highlights widespread concern about brands’ approach to data privacy. This worry increases across generations, with 60 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds registering concern, compared to 73 per cent of those aged 65 and older.

The pattern was similar when participants were asked their opinion about data security on IoT devices: 62 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds registered concern, compared to 72 per cent of the older age group.

The good news for brands, and those working to protect data privacy, is that consumers are ready and willing to take responsibility for their personal data — if given the chance to do so. Some 63 per cent of consumers feel personally accountable for protecting their data versus relying on brands or governments.

Jason Rose, senior vice president of marketing at Gigya, said: “Brands that put consumers in control of their privacy and deploy platforms that strengthen consumer data security will ultimately gain consumer trust.

“These brands will overcome the personalisation-privacy disconnect and deliver on the full promise of their online strategies.”

So the path to the data privacy future is clear – be transparent, be open and be trustworthy. Great things will follow.

Online privacy – when did it start to matter to you?

Most of us can pinpoint a moment when we realised that what we did and said online mattered more than just in the moment.

Maybe it was wondering why ads for things we had looked at kept following us around the web, or why spammers knew our names and email addresses.

More drastically, maybe you were hacked, or had someone snoop in an account you’d forgotten to log out of.

Or maybe it was simply finding traces of old, long-forgotten (and inevitably embarrassing) accounts you’d erased from your memories, if not the web – and the accompanying dawning of the permanence of our digital selves.

For most of us, that dawning awareness simply prompted us to be more alert and careful with no ongoing consequences, but for some job opportunities and more were already ruined.

Whatever prompted your digital privacy awakening, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to hear about it for their new project.

In their words: “We’re collecting stories from people about the moment digital privacy first started mattering in their lives. Through this collection, we’re hoping to illustrate the varied, often deeply personal reasons that people care about digital privacy.

“This isn’t a dry policy issue; corporate data practices have lasting ramifications on people’s everyday lives. And the recent vote by Congress to allow companies like Comcast and Time Warner to have unfettered access to our browsing habits puts our privacy even more at risk.”

To add to the conversation, post a blog post, article, tweet, or short video, and then share it on Twitter using the hashtag #privacystory.

The EFF will collate them, collecting these, blogging about them and retweeting them to “help spur a broader public conversation about the value of privacy in our digital world.”

Digital privacy matters now and forever – so get involved and share your story to help others.



The digital tipping point: striking the right balance between data privacy and transparency

A global study of more than 24,000 consumers across 12 countries found concerns about data privacy and security were top of their agenda.

Nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) of those surveyed by Verint said it is vital they know how secure their personal information is, while 86% want to know if their data will be passed on to third parties for marketing purposes.

Personalised services also continue to be important, with 80% of consumers saying they like it when services are tailored to them and their interests.

Marije Gould, Verint VP, EMEA marketing, said: “It comes down to getting the basics right, using technology and analytics to better understand what’s really on the minds of customers, and then working to help ensure the right resources are in place to address evolving needs and requirements.”

These desirable twin pillars of personalisation and privacy have traditionally created a conflict, with backdoor data collection and retention being at the heart of current attempts to personalise services, instead of getting this information direct from the consumer.

But as awareness about the importance of data privacy grows, along with the GDPR coming into law next year which gives new powers over their personal data to consumers, a sea change is coming.

Here at digi.me, we have always subscribed to the theory of the Internet of Me – that putting the individual at the centre of their connected life, and in control of what happens to their data, is key for both increased privacy and service personalisation.

And general awareness raising around the importance of personal information and having control over it can only be a good thing for all of those making to work the Personal Data Economy a much fairer place for the individual.


digi.me pushes hoppa bus appeal over the line

Farnham will get a new community hoppa bus after a donation from digi.me pushed the fundraising target over the finish line.

Steve Forward, general manager at hoppa says: “We were tantalisingly close to reaching our target but were short by £1,000. When we got the call from digi.me to say they wanted to help, I was thrilled. Although every penny donated to our appeal is highly valued, this was the gift that gave us the last push to reach our target, making it particularly memorable.”

Roger Goscomb, CFO & COO of digi.me, said: “When we heard about how important hoppa is to the community and how close they were to being able to buy the new hoppa Farnham Community bus, we wanted to help.

“Being connected is so important: just as our work helps people connect to their data to take control of their digital lives, hoppa connects its customers with their community, giving them control of their real-world lives.”

Demand for hoppa’s services has risen over the past year, adding to the urgency of purchasing the new bus and getting it on the road.

Hoppa offers a vital service to its customers, providing low-cost, convenient transport, which is also accessible to people with disabilities. It provides a door-to-door service to popular destinations such as supermarkets, hospitals and health centres and stations. Many of its customers are older people who no longer drive or people with disabilities with limited transport options.

Hoppa is held in high regard by its customers for its friendly, high quality service and is often described as a lifeline to people who may otherwise lose their independence or become isolated.

Digi.me started out in 2009, offering an innovative tool that enabled users to gather their social media content. Today, its groundbreaking technology allows consumers to gather together their personal data into one place and share it on their terms. The app enables individuals to view all their online data in a secure environment, such as banking, shopping habits and health data, and share it with third parties if they wish for service, convenience or reward.

The new hoppa bus will go into service from Monday 10 April.