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Privacy News & Analysis

The Value Exchange Equation is Shifting

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Marketers are hungry for customer data. Every piece of information about a customer and their interactions with a brand helps marketers create complete customer profiles and guide the ultimate strategy behind the sell. From methodically timing each touchpoint with a potential lead, to personalizing digital content on a website to show each unique visitor what they’d most like to see, the link between data and marketing decisions is undeniable.

But this data isn't always readily available, and customers are hesitant to provide brands with the personal information needed to create this free exchange of profiling and personalizing. The reason is simple -- customers don’t see the value in sharing data.

One Happy Family: Marketing, Messaging Apps and the IoT

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Marketing and creativity has typically gone hand-in-hand. But many of the marketing folks I know are also innovative — and strike me as far more Silicon Valley than Madison Avenue. 

There's no argument that marketing departments want to get their messages in front of as many people as possible. But they have to be the right people or the whole effort could be a loss. That's where innovation comes in: marketers are always looking for unique ways to share their messages. 

As a child, TV was the primary medium by which I was exposed to marketing and advertising. Then the web came along.

The web slowly and methodically changed everything about advertising and marketing. Once it took hold, we were off to the races. The web gave marketers a new way to get their messages out to ever more targeted audiences and has allowed companies to become far more engaged with their customers — or, even better, potential customers.

A Look Back: 6 Internet of Things Trends from 2014

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2014 has lit up with a flurry of new products, developments and focus on how businesses can use the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve business processes and the customer experience.

But wait. IoT isn’t exactly the new kid on the block, so why so much activity this year? Michele Pelino, a Forrester Research principal analyst, attributed the rising interest to a dip in communication fees and sensor costs.

“Sensors and microprocessors that once cost hundreds of dollars are now available for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee,” she said. “Communication costs are also experiencing similar declines, with many wireless operators cutting fees to pennies per month per meter for the cellular link to support smart meters. On the other hand, expanding network availability in mature markets has enabled solution deployment.”

A long way from connected toasters and vending machines, experts predict that IoT will become a $1.9 trillion (Gartner), $7.1 trillion (IDC) or $19 trillion (Cisco) market, depending on which source you believe.

The IoT Challenge: Protecting Privacy in a Connected World

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Just thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) can make your head spin. Through sensors and pervasive connectivity, we open ourselves to a wide range of ideas that can improve our daily activities and add a much richer context to just about everything we do … if we let them.

Privacy, without a doubt, is the biggest area of concern about the IoT.

It's not uncommon to hear terms like Big Brother or 1984 pop up in conversation when the topic comes up, and, in many respects, that is understandable. Many people are naturally spooked by the idea of technology that can track where we go, what we buy, what we eat and how much we move around. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Add some data analytics into the mix and start talking predictive modeling and the potential of the IoT opens the door to the plot of a high tech horror movie.

IT Pros Warm Up to Open Source Collaboration Software

IT security professionals like the idea of open-source collaborating and messaging solutions. So where the heck are they?

Respondents in a Ponemon Institute study released this week are generally positive about commercial open source applications, especially because of the assurance of continuity. However, despite those benefits, companies are slow to adopt, Ponemon found. 

Zimbra, a provider of open source collaboration software, sponsored the survey of 723 IT and IT security practitioners in the United States and 675 IT and IT security practitioners in 18 Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Thanks Google, I Can Manage My Own Bills - and Privacy

Google releases some pretty cool apps on a regular basis. But, it just doesn’t seem to get the whole privacy thing. This week, it announced that it is extending its Google Now personal assistant technology to enable it read your bills — and tell you when they’re overdue.

The first thing that will strike most people is that they don’t really need anyone to tell me when they owe money. It's a sure bet that they are painfully aware of that themselves.

The second thing is privacy. Google has already admitted that it snoops on your emails to produce personalized advertising. Why would it want to look at your bills?

Lose Your Customers' Personal Information, Lose Everything

The customer information your organization collects and analyzes can give you incredibly detailed and useful insights. But for all the advantages this storehouse of data can bring, it can also bring significant risks.

Anytime you collect information about your customers, you run the risk of exposing personally identifiable information. That can not only raise your customers' ire, but may cause your organization to run afoul of security breach laws.

How can you protect your organization? Is it enough to have a well-written privacy policy — and try to follow the rules?

Is Microsoft the Caped Crusader of Email Privacy?

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Jumpin' Jehoshaphat, Batman! Looks like Microsoft is defending email privacy. This, after it confirmed over the weekend that it would not be handing over email data to US federal regulators.

The decision follows a ruling on Friday by a US judge, which instructed the company to turn over email stored in Ireland to US prosecutors. But Microsoft does not plan to turn over the emails, and plans to appeal, a company spokesperson said.

Microsoft Secures Azure Data with Enhanced Encryption

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Microsoft — like Google — is beating the drum on security. It is enhancing the encryption of data transfers between users and the Azure cloud guest operating systems. 

The encryption improvements, which apply to Microsoft Azure cipher solution for hosted guest virtual machines, gives users better and more secure connections during the transmission of data.

According to a Microsoft blog post the new enhancements apply to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which makes it harder to decrypt connections and information going across such connections.

This follows  recent moves by Google to secure and encrypt emails. In the coming weeks, it announced that it will publishing a list of best practices in the coming weeks to make Transport Layer Security (TLS) adoption easier and to avoid common mistakes.

Yep, Facebook Generates a Lot of Hate

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Let's face it, social media networks are annoying ... but we can't live without them.

Especially Facebook. The controversy around the social media giant's re-launch of Facebook Messenger has once again stirred up a nest of privacy concerns.

Like all social networks, Facebook has benefits and warts. The benefit is that it is sublimely designed, it works very well, its got a gigantic user base (including most of your friends) and its got a world-class team constantly refining and tweaking it.

The downside is that Facebook is an immensely commercial operation and it doesn't seem to care too much about your privacy. This is not Craigslist. Let's face it: Facebook is chronicling every subtle activity in your life in a gigantic database so it can cash in on your life. 

Google and Yahoo Ally to Keep Email Snoopers Out

Thumbnail image for Google Secures Gmail  June 6 2014.jpgGoogle and Yahoo are unlikely bedfellows. But yesterday at the annual Black Hat security conference the two announced they were teaming up to keep government and commercial snoopers out of users’ emails.

By 2015, the two promise that not only will it be near impossible to hack or view either Yahoo mail or Gmail, it will also be possible to encrypt emails between Yahoo and Gmail, accounting for a huge amount of email traffic across the Web.

This follows yesterday’s announcement from Google that it will be giving secure websites higher search rankings

What's Behind Google's Encryption Moves

As part of the growing movement toward encrypting web data, Google announced this week that it will boost the search status of web sites that use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to encrypt data, shedding more light on its own motivations to lock and further anonymize  the web.

Google Will Reward Secure Websites with Better Rankings

Google has confirmed plans to give higher search rankings to sites that are deemed more secure. In a blog post on Google’s Online Security blog, it announced it will favor websites that are using HTTPS encryption by default and that it will be rolling this out across all its algorithms.

Facebook's Mind Experiments: Just Media As Usual

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Yes, "furor erupted" over Facebook's massive psychological experiment to control user emotions by changing the configuration of posts.

How naive are we, really? Of course Facebook wants to control your thoughts — that's the whole point of media.

Emotional manipulation in the media is nothing new. That's why we have Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps Facebook's experiment was more disturbing because of its scale, and the fact that it failed to alert or gain the consent of its users.

But anybody thinking that the trend of media companies using real time user data to control reactions of its audience is something new is mistaken. 

Digital Ad Alliance Boss: We Can Police Ourselves

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The biggest challenge in mobile marketing may not be what the technology can do, but how the benefits of data-driven ads affect the privacy of the consumers they target.

Much has been said about the "creepy" factor of compiling information about your kids, location, financing and health. At the same time, studies show 70 percent of consumers prefer to see ads that align with their personal interest. 

Lou Mastria, executive director of the Digital Advertising Alliance, has been at the eye of the privacy hurricane for years while working in public affairs, government and the ad industry. He also holds a masters degree in public policy. In his current role, he reflects his industry-backed group's push for self-regulation of advertising practices. He's had plenty of success.

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