Get a vault for your data!

It’s not often that we readily endorse a product or company. However, when the nature of work they engage in is considered ground-breaking and has a positive impact on our lives – it most certainly warrants a mention.

The rationale for considering such tech-driven projects as highly significant is neither due to ‘gut feeling’. Nor that it is simply fascinating and therefore must be an excellent product. This project actually has a value proposition for you!

We are indeed well into the information age and while we have written extensively about data, its importance to marketers and its fragility when used and abused by unscrupulous third-parties for their financial gain.

The issue of data security is however, quite a serious issue. You just need to pay attention to the news to become even more aware.

 

Data breach incidents

In Europe, the where security is supposedly more advanced, we have seen the likes of renowned airline British Airways, being hacked. Several hundreds of thousands of customers’ personal data compromised.

These were followed by hacks on other major airlines such as Cathay Pacific.  Aside from airlines, other business outfits have suffered a similar fate.

The perpetrators are getting a lot more brazen and very recently, a cable car, used as public transport in Moscow was hacked, leaving vulnerable passengers terrified and stuck high up in the air. And this probably to the amusement of the pranksters (hackers).  

Can you imagine the chaos and commotion that would be caused if their control systems of driverless cars were to be hacked? 

The digital intrusions get even more sophisticated.

This time, affecting the very wealthy:  private yachts are now being hacked and taken into the pirate waters, all via uniquely coded signals, reading data from their antennas!

 

Data security 

On the issue of data security, you often hear about extra protection but not just anti-virus and anti-phishing software. The more secure and heavily encrypted Blockchain technology is, however, making waves in the digital sphere.

It is mainly for the escalation of its once shining star by-product designed for discreet transacting – the Bitcoin.

Blockchain technology has also triggered several other technologies based on its digital cryptology technology to ensure that your information is kept safe from prying eyes while stored, used or transferred online.

Blockchain products such as cryptocurrencies, however, are not completely safe from hackers!

 

A solution

Zortrex400x400The company we chose to highlight uses a unique vault system and is called Zortrex. It has adopted one of such Blockchain technologies dubbed tokenization. It will be using it to ensure that highly sensitive data online is kept safe.

“Our tokenised solution would have protected their customers’ personal identification information (PII) details. Instead the hackers ran off with the date of birth; passport numbers; financial data etc,” says Susan Brown, Chairperson of Zortrex – relating to the British Airways incident.

 

Tokenization is the process of converting rights to real-world assets into a digital token on a blockchain.

Brown’s background in data privacy systems as well as her devoted passion for the protection of PII, financial and healthcare data led her to start up and chair Zortrex. 

 

The law

“Companies have disrespected your data for over 25 years, and if left unattended, there will be nothing left to protect,” Browns says.

Thanks to new laws like the European GDPR law which is now imposing the data protection, data breaches and abuse of customer data is now met with hefty financial penalties.

Companies now think twice about consent and how to use and share your data digitally. But is it enough? The simple answer is no.  

The authorities just do not have the resources to investigate every complaint nor to actively enforce all data breaches – yet.

We have ingeniously invented systems that automatically align with financial messaging, payments and securing information. All of which require data. 

“However, we should and need to go a step further to secure all the PII details with tokenisation so that in the event of a hack, the cookies and trackers will only be following a ‘useless’ token as there is no real identification on it,” Brown explains.

Zortrex would naturally like to tokenise all healthcare data so that vulnerable people living outside of major cities can also feel assured that their privacy is protected.

In a previous blog, we wrote about the new Internet of things (IoT). All those devices being built for it. They would all need  their IP addresses and the serial numbers tokenised for instance.

 

Using Blockchain

The application of the all-powerful blockchain is not limited to use in the financial sector and will be applied via the supply chain to all industries that deal with data – especially the most sensitive ones.

An angel investor or any investor for that matter looking to get onto the next best thing since Amazon would therefore be unwise to pass up the opportunity to back the Zortrex venture given its scope.

Furthermore, regulations are currently being implemented primarily in the pharmaceutical sector.

A tokenised supply chain such as what Zortrex offers would be ideal for this new law which is planned to be implemented by 2023.  A judiciary blockchain, for instance, would enable the police to “talk” to the prison service,  who in turn, will communicate with the legal sector or public health institutions (NHS).

Forensic evidence would in such instances be tokenised and kept secure (away from tampering) during legal hearings.  In another practical scenario, Smart Contracts (which are touted to replace lawyers) can spark off legal aid assistance.

You court cases will be heard quicker and be more efficient.  Protection registers can also be protected with tokenisation rendering it more secure.

Blockchain technology offers quality assurance making sure that no shortcuts are taken. The smart contracts specifically, trigger any possible malfeasance.

This will enable the monitoring and tracking of any data sharing to third parties once it is tokenised. The third party apps would only gain access to the data once the trigger has been activated.

Like other pioneers and visionaries, Brown’s futuristic hope that every child being born will have their name, date of birth, blood type data being tokenised, might seem farfetched. However, given the nature and rise of data breaches it is evidently necessary.

Zortrex wants to use their technology to put the hackers out of business! 

Tokenisation cannot be mathematically reversed and thus it will least it will stop the hackers for a while.

Scalability

For such high ambitions, the creators of Zortrex’s software have adequately ensured that the technology used is fully scalable. One stumbling block many Blockchain projects now face is what is referred to as scalability – which in tech terms, is the ability of a network or software to grow and manage increased demand.

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum specifically – which is used to build a lot of Distributed Applications, however, have massive scalability issues.

The growth in demand for DApps is crippling those systems. They need to investigate the incorporation of alternative technologies, upgrade or split their platforms to cope with such high demand.

Someone must take the first step in securing this data forever. You should be able to purchase what you want without being harassed by trackers and cookies.

The need for tokenisation is endless and further, down the line, celebrities and government official’s PII can be secured by it to protect them from damaging schemes, ‘bad press’ and scandals.

In a previous blog, we “prophesized” that data is the new commodity – like gold or oil. However, the actual value with that data will lie in its privacy, the ability to store it securely and unlock it only with legal permission by its rightful owner.

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3D Copy and Print

The bizarre-sounding digital copying phenomena called 3D-printing has been mulling around from the past.  Recently, it has been in the limelight; specifically in the press for the wrong reasons.

In 2013, a University of Texas law student, Cody Wilson created a blueprint for a single-shot 3D-printed handgun, named “The Liberator”.

Of recent, guns have posed a serious threat to peaceful living when in the wrong hands. But what if anyone could hastily manufacture them unsupervised,  from the comfort of your home?

Defense Distributed, Wilson’s company had been distributing downloadable weapons plans for free. This would be great if it was planned for building something more useful to society.

Point is, with this new device, you can literally make a 3D copy of any imaginable object – even food!

3D printing builds parts (mostly out of plastic or other synthetics) based on the central concept: a digital model like a CAD drawing (Computer Assisted Drawing).

This is turned into a physical three-dimensional object by adding material a layer at a time. This is where the formal name for 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing arises.

The actual device is no bigger than a normal Deskjet or heavy duty paper printer and is quite a marvel to watch in action.

3D printing is a fundamentally different way of producing parts compared to traditional subtractive (CNC machining) or formative (Injection moulding) manufacturing technologies.

The brands

Some of the top 3D printing brands include MakerBot, XYZprinting, Formlabs and LulzBot and you can pick them up from as little as $200 to $4000.

The price naturally depends on the product size, material, complexity and level of detail you need.

The most expensive if you are into heavy-duty manufacturing would, therefore, set you back a cool $2,500,000  for the Imprimere’s Model 2156.

Application in the world

Since its uptake in as far back as 2010, a lot of the products already in use are manufactured using 3D printing.  You will find its application mostly in the medical and dental industry and used for custom prosthetics, implants, and dental aids.

They are used to manufacture of high-level sporting gear – tailored to fit athletes perfectly. There is then, of course, the ability for you to ‘print’ fashion accessories.

This would give you more flexibility when it comes to your specific style, colour and fabric/material.

Some of the advantages of using these machines include:
  • Speed: You can upload complex designs from a CAD model and print in a matter of hours.
  • You have more design freedom. It gives you complete customization of designs.
  • It is more eco-friendly: Additive manufacturing methods use only the material needed to build a part. The raw materials can be recycled and re-used.
  • Costs: compared to traditional manufacturing, the labour costs for a 3D printer are almost zero.

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Image source: 3DHubs

For a more comprehensive comparison of 3D Printers available to you (hopefully not to build weapons), look at the 3D Printing index on the resources page.

Here is a list of cool things to create with a 3D printer if you are looking for great ideas for Xmas or birthdays – this might just be it!

Anonymous Surfing

You don’t have to be an online arsonist, hacker or international cyber-terrorist to hide your online identity. Likewise, concealing your PC’s web address or (better known as) your Internet Protocol address (IP address), making it unknown to the public, does not necessarily mean you are up to no good online.

Debunqed.com will, therefore,  build a case for why it is important at times to conceal your private online location with the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).

A VPN is a connection method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like Wi-Fi Hotspots and the Internet. They are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data but now also by the man on the street for the very same necessity.

Getting back to the importance of your IP address: it is probably something you rarely think about but is very crucial to your online lifestyle even as an individual. How so? You might still ask.

Well, without an IP address, you wouldn’t be able to get the current weather, check the latest news or view at videos (streaming) online for instance.

VPN-Protect-you

Click here or on the image to view a quick video

The uses of VPNs

Your IP is also used for basically every online service you partake in including very private things such as your internet/mobile banking or online trading activity.  Think of it as your physical address and how important it is when getting things delivered by post or using it when you need to make applications for loans, jobs etc.

“Without a public IP address, online service providers like Netflix, BBC or Amazon wouldn’t know where to send the information you asked for. They wouldn’t be able to get it to your computer.”

One can now imagine how naked you must feel if you have nothing to protect this address from the advent of a hack without adequate data encryption.  Also the just the haggling by overzealous online marketers, spam, malware, and even 419 scammers!

Now the argument for whether using VPNs is illegal is highly debatable for some of the valid reasons highlighted above. It should, however, be a given right  to be able to use it. And even though it is commonly used by cyber-thugs to mask their clandestine and often dark activities, it should not be outlawed altogether.

The case for VPN

The legitimacy of VPNs debate therefore, carries on into a grey area.

avg-secure-vpn-featuredWe will, however, investigate a few VPN providers that are ‘paid for services’ and even offered by established companies such as AVG (which primarily offers Antivirus protection).

The directive is to help the everyday consumer surf the web without ‘virtual’ salespeople bombarding them with offers based on personal information gathered in an ‘unsolicited’ manner.

Policies like the European-based GDPR law were put in place to protect consumers from the non-consensus use of their data. Even your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can track your online activities via your IP and sell your browsing habits.

Some forward-thinking people and companies, however, have long been shielding themselves manually using VPNs.

One direct benefit for you as a consumer is the ability to access content (information, products, and services) from different servers. A good VPN service can enable you to obtain access to other geo-locational content despite being on a different continent.

Take the example of Netflix: if you use a VPN in Europe it enables you to have international access to content from the US by using a US-based server for access.

It is perfectly legal provided you are paying for the service. The burden falls on the provider of the service and not the end user if it came down to a legal “scrap”.

If you need to do these tasks frequently, you need a VPN:

  • To hide your IP address (to enable anonymity from marketers and hackers)
  • Change your IP address (to avoid identity theft)
  • Encrypt data transfers (private and financial data)
  • Mask your location (to access other services)
  • Access blocked websites

250x250A word of caution for the last reason, i.e when navigating websites blocked by governments with a VPN: Unless you are a high-profile journalist working on a case and backed by good legal aid – it’s not a wise thing to do.

Do some research if you are not sure because accessing such sites (and not necessarily just government sites) could land you in some hot water. Rather use a known privacy service like Tor to ensure full anonymity to gain access to restricted sites if you really must.


Top Virtual Private Network Protocols

VPN protocols and available security features are numerous. The most common (best) protocols are:

ExpressVPNthe acclaimed best offshore VPN for privacy and unblocking.

IPVanish great for P2P and Torrenting.

VyprVPNthe best choice for those looking for security.

NordVPNsecurity is its middle name.

TunnelBeardubbed the easiest VPN to use.

Windscribea VPN which gives you unlimited connections.

Hotspot Shieldan awesome solution for online browsing.

KeepSolid VPN Unlimitedthe jack of all trades of VPNs.

CyberGhostrich clients and ease of reconfiguring.

ZenMateuser-friendly VPN that caters to the newbies to VPN.

PureVPNtake advantage of easy to use apps and access to many servers.

Source: www.itproportal.com, PureVpn

Picking a VPN service can be a daunting task as there are now literally hundreds of them to choose from. Landing the right one means striking the right balance between services, ease of use and pricing.

Some providers offer free VPN services while some like AVG charges for their VPN service. Paid VPN providers, however, are preferred to the free service providers as they offer robust gateways, proven security, additional free software, and unmatched speed.

The key is to find the best VPN that meets your immediate needs while matching your budget.

Modern-day Profit Hunters

Dealing with Cryptocurrency has its interesting dynamics. There are, however, many hidden facets making it still a mystery to the masses. Not knowing about it makes you prone to, get rich-schemes or outright scams.

We are all by now aware of the mania caused by the soaring prices and then, the subsequent decline that followed early this year. 

What people don’t pay attention to, however, is finding out exactly just how complex it is to physically “acquire” and store these Cryptocurrencies.

Mining coins can be described very basically as the process where users “or miners” become part of a Cryptocurrency network. This by making hardware (PC processors and graphics cards) available to support that specific network’s operations.

As a miner, you contribute towards the working of the Blockchain. The technology requires millions of calculations to validate transactions into what are known as public ledgers.

Click here for more about how the Blockchain works.

There are three main ways to mine these coins but we will not be highlighting them in this post. The matter to be covered here, however, is the business aspect: how the Blockchain has created a new line of commercial entities and profit takers.

These modern tech “enterprises” offer a specific or cluster of altcoins and tokens as a reward for helping them maintain their Blockchain.

Sounds like a win-win situation right?  Or is it?

Mining is hard

If you have actually looked into the main methods of  mining you will discover that only miners with high-end hardware are able to produce enough power to contribute to the Blockchain. This is called “hash power” or “hash rate”. This is  kind of like horsepower for cars, but for PC processing.

There are sites that illustrate how to calculate potential profits such as one conveniently called ‘what to mine’.

The opportunity cost of operating the customized computer systems (commonly known as Mining Rigs), will have to be offset with the cost of acquiring hardware such as the Antminer S9i. Then there are energy costs associated with running the rigs for long periods of time.

Your profit would, therefore, be the balance of the costs versus the revenue involved in mining coins – which is usually observed over a year to make a clear profit or loss assessment.

Mining profit = Revenue (quantity x price of the coin in local fiat currency)  minus cost of the mining devices + annual electricity costs (measured in local currency per KWh).

The problem with going at it alone is that it is very hard to break even. You are also faced with a conundrum:  the more powerful your hardware is, the more electricity it consumes.

It also takes a lot longer to acquire the coins which you are awarded by the respective blockchain network after successful hashing is completed.

To make it worth your while you would hope that the coin you mine’s market value exceeds the costs of the monthly/annual electricity bill.

Value proposition

There a now hundreds of these so-called Crypto/Tech companies spurting up by the day. Their modus operandi: to relieve you of the burden of the high electricity and hardware costs. This in exchange a monthly or once-off fee.

In return, they promise to mine coins and provide you with daily or monthly profits (payable in Crypto or in cash). They can do this because they presumably have bigger (and more powerful) mining setups and therefore benefit from larger economies of scale.

Some of these establishments use big rooms, whole buildings or even warehouses to run thousands of mining rigs throughout the year.

The payments you make supposedly help them with maintenance costs and pay for the said electricity bills. They are also usually stationed in countries where the cost of electricity is very low.

MiningCosts

You are likely to, however, run the risk of dealing with the occasional Ponzi-scheme – setup.  Such companies dive at the opportunity to swindle those not familiar with Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.

By dazzling you with the price increases and potential astronomical returns which is public knowledge anyway, they take your money and make a run for it!

One can also ponder, as it is incredibly difficult and expensive to mine Bitcoin these days, if these setups are actually just people who have already made their millions from acquiring Cryptocurrency.

The acquisition naturally, would have been when they were dirt cheap, and are now offering the residue to make more profit off unknowing investors.

An example

How it would work is: let’s say you owned 100 Bitcoins mined in 2010 for the opportunity cost of $100 each (cost of electricity).

You then sold half at the height of the Crypto ‘bull run’ in January 2018 when they were worth $19 000 each.  You would have been $945 000 richer.

So, with almost a million bucks in the kitty and another 50 units of coins (which would be now worth a lot less); the natural inclination would be to look at ways to make the extra coins ‘work for you’.

And what better way than to be one’s own boss and head a Crypto company! You can with your new setup, sell off the residue of Crypto coins  in bits for profits in cash.

This is likely what some of these companies offering coins for an opportunity to acquire Bitcoins. This under the pretense of partaking in a mining operation.

Meanwhile,  in reality, the actual mining probably took place almost a decade ago!

All in all, do stay alert and do your research before parting with your money to join a mining pool or Crypto investment scheme!