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The re:publica has become an event for all digital opinion leaders and is not simply a local Berlin, Germany, conference. Understanding how the Internet is changing and how it can be a safer and more creative place is key to achieving growth without losing identity.
While privacy remains a very important topic for F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer Mikko Hyppönen, he held a two-fold keynote at this year’s re:publica, covering both the threats and challenges that nowadays’ Internet users and providers face and also the increasing threat of malware used by governments to spy on their people and other governments.
When Mikko built his first website in 1994 even then he discussed with his colleagues how users would pay for content. They thought a simple button would achieve that. But now, 20 years later, this has not been achieved. A looming threat for privacy is what is done today to pay for content.
A totally different model that has come up for paying for content, which is profiling the users, creating profiles of the end-users as they use different services and then selling those profiles to advertisers.
But how do advertising companies know what real-world people are connected to anonymized profiles? Mikko explains how this connection is made by number-crunching data warehouse companies and how that will impact our privacy in the years to come. It’s the reason Facebook bought Whatsapp and other alliances that do not look suspicious on the surface.
While privacy is in danger from all the advertising being done, the profiling being made, another threat has become very real. Government spying started roughly ten years ago with the first government malware created in China. Nowadays this is more abundant with governments spying on their own people, the companies and other governments. Especially Russia, the USA and China steadily create more malware to spy.
Another interesting point that Mikko made is that every person can find out about the technical background of officials nowadays. The information what computers the US president uses and other details is open source and available by a simple look at official photographs.
But not all is bad, Mikko has a strong message for attendees:
What gives me hope are events like these and people like you; people who care; people who think about privacy; people who are willing to stand up and do something.