Stan Stalnaker of Hub Culture discusses how the ownership of data is key to the future of online security
The Future of Digital Safety & Security: A Consumer Guide is a 10-week series from PSFK and MasterCard exploring the key trends that are defining the future of digital safety & security. You can read and share the full report on our Slideshare page.
Maintaining online security can be a difficult task, particularly when new threats and concerns seem to crop up every week. It’s hard as a consumer to keep up with everything, and also to know which companies can be trusted with gathering and holding personal data. As part of our series on The Future of Digital Safety and Security, we sat down with Stan Stalnaker to discuss the future of data ownership, seamless security and how companies can do a better job at gaining our trust.
Stan Stalnaker is the Founding Director of Hub Culture, a social collaboration network that merges online and physical places. Hub Culture is one of the world’s most influential private networks, with a news content system geared around micropayments, data ownership, collaboration tools that merge physical locations with the Web, and collaborative access to some of the world’s most influential people. The platform is tied to the cryptocurrency, Ven, and strives to create a secure online community, which promotes the use of digital currencies.
Be sure to check out the full report to learn more about how to protect yourself in today’s marketplace.
PSFK: What are some of the larger themes you have been paying attention to in the online security space over the past year?
Stan Stalnaker: Online, the biggest change is awareness. Consumers, especially in the United States, are much more aware that their online information is valuable, and that it can be compromised. But they also don’t feel like there’s anything they can do about it, because the companies not only hold the data, but also own and manage it.
Facebook and Google are the biggest offenders of that. We give them all of our data, and they make a fortune on it. We don’t make anything on it, so why are they? The answer is, “Well, you get the service for free.” If you’re willing to pay for a service, then maybe that company will or will not use your data in some way. Our approach at Hub ID grants data ownership to the individual in the community, and we don’t sell their data or aggregate their data, so it’s secure and safe.
PSFK: How do you think people define trust, and what are their key emotional needs around trust?
A large part of trust is a result of familiarity, particularly if you’re a big brand that has a lot of touch points and a strong legacy. It’s also why you’ll find that many banks were founded back in the 19th century. Somehow we trust these institutions that have been around for a long time, or institutions that are very large scale.
I would like to flip it on its head and say how do you get to an effective transaction that does not need trust? How do you get to a trustless transaction? That is the actual change that’s coming.
If you can make a transaction, and trust is not a requirement, then it’s a much more efficient situation. That’s why $600 million of venture capital flowed into Blockchain Technologies in the last year: a lot of it is based on this promise of trustless transactions.
We also currently trust companies to hold and protect large amounts of our personal data. I think the ultimate mid‑term strategy will be for companies to divorce themselves from holding that data, but still being able to look at that data to create outcomes. By not holding it, then their vulnerability to hack is just the communication point and not the storage point, so you can eliminate half of the risk just off that.
PSFK: To what degree do you think consumers want to play an active role in their own security, and to what extent would they rather rely on a trusted company or third party?
The people who really go through all the motions to protect themselves are generally a fringe group who often already work in technology. Those are the people who want to take security into own their hands, but the average consumer doesn’t have the time or capacity to keep up with the ever-changing security threats.
I always think about my mom or even myself. I have enough to worry about, and the last thing I want on my mind when buying a cup of coffee with my credit card is securing my token, or other stuff I don’t even really understand. It’s scary, it’s often frustrating, and the easiest option is to ignore it.
There’s a market opportunity for the company that figures out how to make security, such as payments or online transactions, easy for the consumers so they don’t have to think about it, worry about it, or deal with it. It’s just like everything else, whatever makes it easier for the person is the technology that’s going to probably win.
There are always degrees of security; some people know what a PGP key is, and they know that they can apply that to their communications to have more secure communications. Would everybody like to have that? Sure, if it was built in, that would be great. If I couldn’t see it, and it was just a seamless part of the service I’m using, great. If I have to actively manage that every time I communicate online, it’s one more thing for me to worry about, and people already have more than enough things to worry about. The winning scenario is the company, or the person, or entity that figures out how to make it invisible and seamless.
PSFK: What predictions can you share around what we can expect from the safety and security space in the next few years, and what are you particularly excited about?
I think that the way our data is used will continue to feel invisible to the consumer. Security and privacy should be a default activity. Security will continue to be a default activity, but I think privacy will become harder to achieve.
All kinds of personal data is being gathered and stored by all kinds of companies. Currently, companies are very good at gathering, but in the coming decade, their ability to analyze and understand that data will become exponentially more sophisticated. That’s why Hub is so focused on the individual being able to own their data, be it financial, health-related or something else, because people should be able to control how that gets used. Why should, for example, Target make a decision about how my data gets used? I’ve already paid them for the product, and the transaction should end there.
I think the key here is awareness. We need people who understand the big picture well enough, who can then build products and services that protect people not only from the security threats of today, but also from the unknown threats of the future.
The Future of Digital Safety & Security: A Consumer Guide is a 10-week series from PSFK and MasterCard exploring how forward-thinking companies are developing new ways to protect the safety, security, and privacy of their consumers. We’ll be sharing articles about innovative concepts and services that provide greater control and transparency around personal information in both the digital and physical world. You can read more throughout the series, and download the report on our Slideshare page.