After the revelations surrounding Edward Snowden in 2013, mass surveillance was a hot topic throughout 2014. It was revealed that various government agencies – including the NSA (USA), GCHQ (UK) and GCSB (New Zealand) – were spying on the public in an Orwellian scale of operations that claimed to prevent cybercrime and terrorism.
In the age of the smart-everything, an unprecedented number of hacks from government corporations, Chinese agents and nerdy hackers has finally raised the fragility of digital privacy and security into the public eye. Smart cars are in danger of being remotely controlled, smart watches provide a goldmine of data for black market hackers, and even smart fridges have been found sending malicious emails.
Sony experienced a seriously embarrassing security breach at the hands of North Korean-endorsed hackers, in a desperate attempt to stop Sony releasing what, ironically, turned out to be one of the worst films of the year. The hacking of J.P. Morgan, Target, eBay and Community Health Systems displayed an alarming complacency in digital security from big businesses. The sensationalised breach of iCloud, where nude selfies of celebrities proliferated around the seedy underbelly of the internet, skyrocketed the importance of strong personal data protection into the public eye.
Emphasis on and public interest in security and privacy will continue in 2015. Ever more private data is being collected by the tech we wear, drive and browse with. Data that isn’t just valuable to you, but to corporations, governments, hackers and Reddit. Users are already demanding a more ‘erasable’ internet. One where deleted emails stay deleted and private photos stay private.