June 23, 2024

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Data protection

Author : DAOUDI Samir | Context : MSc Software Engineering – Professional issues in computing

With all the data that is generated daily by companies, medias and individuals related to different aspects of our life (business, relationships, entertainment, security …etc) the question of securing this data became a real necessity. We can consider this question from different aspects starting with the personal data security that can be critical to the business or national data protection.

We all have read or heard stories about companies went bankruptcy due to a theft of their business data or a critical information.

So, we all agree that the data protection should be seen with the maximum of priority. But what is data protection? Prior to responding to this question, what data are we considering and what kind of protection should be used upon this data.

Data is information that is processed by equipment and can be recorded in the intention to be processed and considered as part of an information system. This is a general definition of data provided by Hamonds [1]. A sub set of this information known as personal data is all the information related to living individuals, this data can be:

– Name, address, phone number …etc.
– Job, employees, salary.
– Hobbies, religious, political opinion …etc.

And this data can be divided into two groups: [1]
Personal data likely to be covered as details of worker salary emails about incidents with names of persons …etc. It is

clear that such information should be considered confidential and held with a lot of importance.

Personal data unlikely to be covered are all the information about persons that cannot be used against these persons or for illegal ends.

Protecting the data became a personal right, we trust on our employers, internet providers, banks, mobile phone operators and different authority to protect (in general) our sensitive data. As stated by Serge Gutwirth “There is increased awareness of the importance of data protection as regarded not only the protection of the private lives of individuals but their very freedom” [2].

Thanks to new computer systems as cryptography algorithms, security application, hashing methods and the different forms of encryptions ( key, certificate …etc.) companies are able to secure for a reasonable level the sensitive data. In addition to this people are able to protect their own data by using password or encryption programs that are designed for personal use.

Another discussion can be made upon this point (at what level can we trust these encryption programs and can the security provided by these last be considered enough ?).

We are not able to protect our data efficiently, or I would say not every one is able to secure and use such tools in order to protect its data. So it can be better for us to let companies and professionals protect our data as they can have the latest equipment and solutions for this purpose (Here also we can discuss the relation of trust that should be established between these companies and general public). Data protection can be widely used and provided by companies and not restricted to riche persons as the cost of such operations (encryption or hiding sensitive data) can be neglected comparing with the benefits.

References :

[1] : Hamonds, « Data protection, 2nd edition »,2004. ISBN : 1-84398-007.

[2] : Serge Gutwirth, Yves Poullet, Paul De Hert, Cécil De Terwangne and Sjaak Nowt, “Reinventing Data Protection?”,2009.
ISBN : 978-1-4020-9497-2