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Data Privacy Day, thinking about AI

by Geny Caloisi
We know that these days, information flows seamlessly through the digital landscape. This is a good thing for the security industry, as it allows remote monitoring and servicing. However, protecting our personal data has never been more critical. The Data Privacy Day, observed annually on January 28th, is a global reminder of the need to prioritise and advocate for protecting individuals’ sensitive data.

As technology advances and integrates into every facet of our lives, the digital ecosystem becomes increasingly complex, posing new challenges and risks to our privacy. This day encourages us to foster a collective awareness of the importance of data privacy and to take proactive measures to secure our online presence.

Carla Roncato, Vice President of Identity, WatchGuard Technologies, shares her thoughts about this year’s Data Privacy Day 2024: “Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are top of mind this Data Privacy Day, both for the potential benefits and troubling dangers these tools could unleash. Considering the widespread proliferation of AI tools in just this past year, we in the information security community must seize this opportunity to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of the emerging risk of AI for our data. As AI becomes a more integral – and infringing – presence in our everyday lives, it will have real implications for our data rights.

We should remember that AI services can collect data from user devices and store interaction prompts. Subsequently, this data may be utilised to train the AI model. While this process may not be inherently malicious, it underscores the importance of scrutinising the privacy implications of processing scraped data to train generative AI algorithms.

“Consider the potential scenario of a security breach affecting one of these service providers,” says Rocanto who adds, “In such instances, threat actors could gain unauthorised access to user data, presenting a significant risk. Once in the wrong hands, the data could be weaponised against users, underscoring the critical need to assess and understand the privacy implications of data processing practices employed by AI services. Vigilance is paramount to safeguarding personal information from potential misuse and exploitation.”

Rocanto concludes: “The risks your business faces depend on your specific organisation’s missions, needs and the data you use. In security, everything starts with a policy, meaning that you must ultimately craft an AI policy tailored to your organisation’s unique use case. Once your policy is nailed down, the next step is communicating it and the risks associated with AI tools to your workforce. But it’s important to revise or amend this policy to ensure compliance amid changing regulations – and reiterate it with your workforce regularly.”

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