Boon and bane! Here’s why enterprises need to enhance data privacy and protection


Amid big data investments in agriculture, transportation, healthcare, banking, retail, and energy, it is imperative India protects sensitive corporate and government information.

Nearly 3,000 engineers from Bosch in both Stuttgart and Bengaluru have one thing in common: they are putting their brains – figuratively speaking – into a super brain. This “brain” can crunch 30 trillion data points per second and will process data three times faster than a human brain can. This brain, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), is designed to not make mistakes. It is what Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari predicted would be the next phase of evolution of Homo sapiens – being connected to all things around us.

While engineers are not going as far as putting little microchips in our brain yet, the AI-powered “brain” will start off in our cars and help protect the environment, along with offering us safety and stress-free driving.

The engineers from Bosch, together with Daimler, have formed an alliance to put self-driving cars on the roads this year.

Rolf Bulander, Chairman of Mobility Services at Robert Bosch GmbH, says, “From automotive cloud suite to e-scooters, software connects people from home to work and helps them discover experiences around them.”

He adds that the car will be the third living experience and will have gesture and voice control. “The objective is to save lives because 90 percent of accidents are caused by human error; AI will reduce this in automated and driverless cars.”

The question about how different cultures will use AI and data is one of the most important ones, and Rolf points to Germany as an example. The German government has appointed a judge of the constitutional court to head an ethics committee on AI in cars. The aim is to find the answer to a fundamental question: how does the car decide whose life it has to save in an emergency situation? Based on the age of the passengers, does it protect the younger person over the older one, the one who has a better chance of survival after an accident, or the one who needs critical medical attention?

The future, though, cannot be about stopping technology. Companies like Bosch and others will push boundaries to make humans reinvent themselves in relation to what technology can do.

Data can be an organisation’s boon and bane. It’s a boon because it helps understand the user; it’s a bane because data needs to be protected.

What is big data?

Big data analytics is the process of taking huge quantities of structured and unstructured data and using distributed computing platforms to combine and convert this into meaningful results. Analytics companies take these results to figure out consumer behaviour and offer predictive and prescriptive results for the 8.4 billion connected devices that Gartner says are in use on the planet in 2017.

Praveen Bhadada, partner and Head of Digital Transformation at management consulting firm Zinnov, says: “India has a multitude of large-scale problems that can apply the power of big data to find plausible solutions and implement them. We are seeing big data investments in agriculture, transportation, healthcare, banking, retail, and energy.”

India has just started making investments in big data and has to overcome several challenges before this gains momentum. For one, large companies are hamstrung by their ability to create a clear data strategy, define governance models, predict data-led returns on investment (RoI), and select the right tools, technologies and partners. Finding skilled talent and ensuring data privacy isn’t easy either.

There is, quite literally, an explosion of data around the world, and every organisation needs to prepare to be able to use this data.

In 2014, IDC estimated that the amount of useful data worldwide would increase 20x between 2010 and 2020, while 77 percent of the data relevant to enterprises would be unstructured through 2015.

Why secure data?

Partha DeSarkar, CEO of HGS, says: “The last seven years have seen huge advances in data sciences. Data lets you drive better marketing and increase sales spends. It took the industry 10 years to prepare for this insight-based approach.”

While data sciences are great for an organisation’s bottom-line, data protection also needs to be in an organisation’s DNA.

Say the healthcare records of a million patients are being analysed in the cloud. The data, although behind a firewall, is still vulnerable because it is flowing through a network. The organisation or hospital should ensure that data of an individual patient is protected and does not get tampered with by any external agent.

Hindol Basu, Co-founder of Actify Data Labs, says, “AI is used to make doctors make better decisions. AI can also be used to track attack patterns in organisation. The enterprise today secures all kinds of data because the risks of data being stolen can hurt business.”

Who is it that organisations fear? They fear new-age hackers called black-hats; there is no stopping them because they use code to break into enterprise networks. They can steal data, make a network crumble, and cause losses that run into billions. Two years ago, US automotive giant Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles to fix software that was hacked by black-hats. In this context, India too is vulnerable and needs security startups that can protect sensitive corporate and government information.

Imagine if the SCADA machines controlling India’s power grid were shut down remotely by a hacker from China or Russia. This would result in economic and social chaos across India. In such an event, money could be pulled out of India’s stock market. But somebody would have netted a profit globally. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but is the truth we are waking up to in the cyber world.

Data from security company McAfee suggests that India has witnessed attacks on more than 300,000 of its websites. The report adds that cybercrime is a growth industry where the returns for black-hats are great while risks are low. The report estimates that the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime is more than $400 billion. A conservative estimate would be $375 billion in losses; however, the maximum could be as much as $575 billion.

Today, securing data goes hand in hand with the opportunity. But, there is no doubt that the data revolution has led to the AI and machine learning revolution.

N Shanmugam, Co-founder of [24], says: “Everything is based on data. ML and AI are here to stay. Customer service is heading that way and clients want to better customer service with a man and machine interface.”

The IoT influence

Add IoT devices to the mix of AI and ML, and this will bring in much more data.

A Nasscom and Deloitte report says India will soon have 1.9 billion IoT devices installed, with a market size of $9 billion. If this “really” happens, India’s installed base will be 10 percent of the total volume of the globe. In terms of market size, India will be 0.40 percent of the total global value of $3 trillion.

Here are some key things that will happen in the IoT world:

  • Devices will use information to prescribe and predict what next
  • Startups will create IPs that will be picked up by large companies
  • Data sharing and privacy debates will continue to heat up
  • Regulation will not keep pace with devices studying human habits
  • The end-of-the-state debate will create a new race
  • IoTs will deliver efficiency at home and in industry, but it will be accessed by the creamy layer of society

In the book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes points out a very interesting fact. “Human beings consciously surrendered their freedoms to the State, which has no conscience, and in all its power, the State can do things that an ordinary individual would not do. Things like maintaining sovereignty are what the citizen empowers the State to do on his behalf.”

Today, the Aadhaar database, which has biometric data of 1 billion Indians and links services such as telecom and tax payments for verification, is just one form of surrendering data to an external party.

But one thing is clear. Your data, even if you are a newborn baby, is out there and there’s not much you can do about it.

Devices will either move humanity to a new plain of thinking to achieve greater scientific marvels or usher in a new race altogether. No wonder Elon Musk wants regulation of data and artificial intelligence while Vladimir Putin is looking for world domination with these technologies.