data decoupling and cloud services

Data Decoupling and Cloud Services: A New Way to Ensure Data Privacy

Modern protocols for decoupled data storage like Solid can maintain the benefits of cloud services while protecting against data breaches.
Davi Ottenheimer, VP of Trust and Digital Ethics
December 1, 2023

In an age dominated by concerns over privacy breaches and the precarious state of user data security, the imperative to reconsider data protection models is more crucial than ever.

Bruce Schneier and Barath Raghavan, both eminent figures in the field of security—Schneier as Chief of Security Architecture at Inrupt and Raghavan as a technical advisor—offer valuable insights in their thoughtfully articulated piece for IEEE Spectrum. They advocate for a specific technical paradigm shift: the separation of data at rest, data in motion, and data in process, with W3C’s Solid technology as the linchpin. Their measured analysis underscores the need for a strategic reassessment to enhance data security in our rapidly evolving digital landscape. They write:

“Solid is a protocol for distributed personal data stores, called pods. By giving users control over both where their pod is located and who has access to the data within it—at a fine-grained level—Solid ensures that data is under user control even if the hosting provider or app developer goes rogue or has a breach. In this model, users and organizations can manage their own risk as they see fit, sharing only the data necessary for each particular use.”

Schneier and Raghavan propose a practical vision where users gain heightened control over their personal data through easily managed decentralized Pods. This concept harks back to the foundational principles of the early web, akin to the user-centric control seen during the personal computer revolution. The objective is to firmly place contemporary data back in the hands of its owners, reducing exposure to potential threats from unreliable hosting providers or app developers.

Their vision emphasizes core values of independence and security. The use of encrypted data, at rest and in transit, even when in processing, acts as a tangible barrier against misuse by service providers. This approach stands out as a measured response to modern challenges, mitigating risks effectively across different scales and purposes. Importantly, it removes data from the constraints associated with specific service providers' "consent exit barriers."

Schneier and Raghavan emphasize the importance of well-informed policies and increased public awareness. The practical value in their message is found in the transformative technology and its straightforward infrastructure. Organizations that promptly adopt this paradigm shift bolster their defenses against data breaches and position themselves as reliable custodians for the future. This innovative approach, far from compromising service delivery, becomes a necessity, safeguarding a fair market dynamic and restoring equilibrium in the symbiotic relationship between organizations and users.

Respected figures in secure data management acknowledge the timeliness of transitioning to robust data protection with the Solid protocol. Schneier and Raghavan provide a clear path toward embracing decoupled data, simplifying the resolution of breaches for those yet to undergo decoupling, and promoting trust as a foundational element. It's analogous to experienced mariners sharing decades of insights for navigating growing storms ahead, illustrating their commitment to advancing the industry for enhanced stability. Their dedication contributes to creating a more secure future for everyone involved.

Want to learn more about how Inrupt can help your organization align with modern data decoupling practices? Contact our team today.

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