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Why is Big Tech a Big Deal?

In our last blog, we looked at how companies should protect against data breaches and losses. This time, we’re going to look at the ones we all rely on, whether we like it or not, often referred to as “Big Tech”. They’re all over the news right now, so let’s explore why, and how systems like Hadageto can help you avoid relying on them for data and document security.

It’s a huge topic, I know – I’d rather be stuffing myself with turkey and watching Elf too – but we like to keep things simple here and this is really important.

an image of people being monitored by CCTV
Ever feel like you’re being watched?: image via Burst/ Pexels

Why should we care?

Have you thought about how powerful companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are? They have a lot of control over what we search for, purchase, and how we communicate with each other. They also have access to the important documents we depend on, where we store them and often when we share them, especially by email.

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘digital concentration’ in the news. That refers to the monopoly that big tech companies have over the markets they operate in and our online lives. It tends to crop up with references to ‘competition’.

Competition is a good thing. It enables different companies to do the same thing and strive to be the best at it; the fastest delivery, the lowest prices, top notch customer service – you get the idea. But if there are only a few gigantic companies doing these things, there’s less competition and we become over reliant on a select few. So, competition – like trading standards, information and access to our data – needs to be regulated.

Last week, EU lawmakers convened in Brussels to draft new legislation with heightened levels of oversight for “gatekeeper” platforms like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. The new laws will require big tech to do more to prevent misinformation, avoid selling counterfeit goods and – perhaps the greatest ask – to disclose more about how they use our data to target us with advertising. That last point is fairly black box stuff so it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle it.

The US is cracking down, too. Did you read about the attorneys general from 35 states who have launched a huge antitrust lawsuit against Google for illegally maintaining its monopoly over internet searching? The suit says Google has “de facto exclusivity” because of the deals it has to be the default search engine on our machines all over the world.

You might ask why that matters? Good question.

A picture of Homer Simpson as a doomsayer
A popular meme from the Google crash: source: all over the internet

The Google Factor

Have you noticed how many systems have fallen over lately? There was Amazon and AWS in November and British Airways last year, which we covered in our last blog here.

The big one this month was Google. A number of things it owns crashed and mass panic ensued. No access to Gmail? No YouTube? No calendar access? Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any more bonkers!

Google says the global meltdown was due to

“an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue.”
“Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period.”

This reminded many of us about how reliant we are on big tech: Too reliant. It also resulted in a lot of hilarious memes on social media, but that’s a happy by-product.

The authentication system Google refers to is the mechanism it uses to manage how we log in and use its services, and those of third-party developers. Basically, it is watching what we’re doing, even when we aren’t using Gmail.

Do you remember when a vulnerability in Google+ exposed the private information of nearly 500,000 users between 2015 and March 2018? Even the internet giants aren’t above mistakes, hacks and breaches.

Our Gmail, Appstore and Amazon accounts act like portals into our lives: what we’re browsing, where we spend money, the news sites we visit and the conversations we have. These aren’t habits we have positively elected to share. There are some conversations, documents and pieces of data we need to share, store and work with which are too important to linger on the servers of online conglomerates for anyone to see and steal.

So, where should we store and share our confidential documents? Hmm, I wonder…

a blank white jigsaw puzzle with a black piece missing
Hadageto is the bit you’re missing: image via Pixabay/ Pexels

Hadageto problem-solving

Truth time: It’s great that lawmakers are tightening up the rules for Big Tech, but there are things we can do, too.
If it was possible to safely store and share your most important documents with the big guys, there’d be no point in platforms like ours. Would you use Amazon for online banking? Gmail for storing your will? No, me neither.

The New Year is an ideal time for a digital clear out.

  • Make a list of the platforms you use and audit them yourself.
  • Gather all of those past purchases, sent documents to clients, payslips and HR files from your sent items and accounts.
  • Start your shiny new Hadageto account with three months for free using the coupon ‘staysafe’ and begin your secure digital document archive.
  • Tag and store your important documents. We are here to help and show you around.
  • Share them with others via secure links which you can track when they’re opened and downloaded.
  • You can even invite your customers to do the same with you, for free!

Very best wishes for 2021!

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