Data, Data Everywhere

The ultimate end game for organisations is in conquering the tension that exists between the need to innovate and the need to protect.

“Water water everywhere, water near and far. Let’s use our hands and feet to count how many kinds there are.”

The opening lines of the book Water, Water Everywhere by Baby Einstein brings back fond memories for me of bath time with my newly born kids.

How I find myself on a Disney Cruise sailing from Orlando to the Bahamas I’ll leave for another time. Needless to say, with the kids well looked after and internet rates that make airline usage look cheap, I have plenty of time on my hands.

I’m pleasantly surprised at how technologically advanced this cruise is and how much they rely on data to maximise customer experience. Your “key to the world” is literally just that. Tap it to open your room, tap it to purchase an adult beverage (or two or three), tap to purchase souvenirs on the islands you stop at. Facial recognition means every professional photo that is taken of you automatically appears when you tap your magic card on the photo kiosk throughout the ship. On embarkation, the kids are presented with a Disney watch that not only looks cool but probably has more technology in it than my first computer (Olivetti M24 for those interested). The kids can scan themselves in and out of Kids’ Club at will and the adults receive notifications of this through the handy onboard mobile app.

The Kids’ Club is something to behold, spanning across half a deck with various rooms and multiple activities on the go at any time. The kids are automatically tracked as they walk through the club and at any given time the assistants can tell you exactly which room our kids are in. So back at the adults only pool at the swim up bar, we’re relaxed (very!) in the knowledge that our kids are well looked after and not disappearing any time soon.

But what happens when they (and I) step off the cruise? What happens to all the personal data including full name, passport details, date of birth, home address, likes/dislikes, allergies/medical information?

For Disney, all this data-driven technology is a major competitive advantage. Not treated properly, it's also a source of vulnerability for the business.

With so many data breaches in the spotlight lately, you can appreciate my concerns. In fact, while we were away, back home in Singapore SingHealth suffered a major cyberattack and we received a message apologising for the fact that medical details of members of our family had been breached (personal details and outpatient dispensed medicine details). At the same time, as an Australian citizen, I’m aware of the security concerns over the federal government's My Health Record initiative and hope the learnings of other health organisations are being taken into account.

Too often now we are seeing reputable organisations apologising in the media and committing to reactive measures. The problem is the damage is done and who knows what use your sensitive data is being put to? For the organisation there is impact to brand, potential impact to revenue and possible fines.

While organisations have traditionally been more focused on protecting production data, a number of data breaches occur in non-production environments. In fact, as much as 90% of the attack surface for data breaches occur in non-production environments (dev/test/reporting). The secret here is to protect data in non-production and filter/replicate data security in to production. Masking the data affords this level of security without stifling innovation by reducing the area of risk for breach.

The ultimate end game for organisations is in conquering the tension that exists between the need to innovate and the need to protect. Fortunately, DataOps solutions offer the opportunity to enjoy both innovation and protection.

As we step off our cruise, we can only hope that the investment in technology on board extends to the investment of these types of masking solutions to ensure data privacy and security.

The world certainly is moving at a rapid pace. As I reminisce about the amazing time we had, I can’t help but think about how quickly kids grow up and what advancements in technology await them. I envisage my grandchildren having some sort of device reading them stories during their bath time. I can hear it now:

“Data data everywhere data near and far. Let’s use our hands and feet to count how many kinds there are...”