Data Privacy Concerns for Programmers and Developers - SurfShark
Software programmers and developers create billions of lines of code per year. Even when using a slew of automated tests, security measures don’t always guarantee success. By the end of 2019, the global demand for data privacy professionals is expected to create over one million job positions and for good reason. As companies and entrepreneurs adopt increasingly valuable software, they face increasingly dangerous threats.
Today’s biggest data privacy concerns for tech experts take much into account. Between data misuse, machine learning and even artificial intelligence, your information might not be secure. Whether you’re a solo programmer or work with a team of developers, remember these top data privacy concerns to keep your information secure.
Concern One: Lapses in Crypto Coverage
These days, almost everyone uses encryption to protect their data. Because it can be time-consuming to get all of the bases covered, however, many businesses are integrating third-party SDKs and components. This might remove the burden of crypto off developers’ shoulders—but integrating crypto across every platform requires a lot of knowledge about security.
It also requires a keen understanding about how technology scales with a business. Adequate encryption coverage, today, might not be so safe next year. Integrated tools need to be updated constantly, and regular maintenance is advised.
Concern Two: A Lack of Scanning Tools
Even though there are incredibly powerful code scanning tools available, too many businesses overlook their importance. When integrated into one’s development lifecycle, these code scanning tools help programmers and developers identify vulnerabilities caused by the code’s programming language.
While these code vulnerabilities can create a number of privacy concerns, frequent vulnerability scans can quickly eliminate flaws. There are even free code scanning tools available, readily available to programmers and developers in need.
Concern Three: Third Party Libraries
This concern is primarily for mobile app developers, but it can impact everyday programmers, too. Often, mobile app code needs to build code from third party libraries. This is unsafe, however, as many third party libraries aren’t secure.
As such, app developers would be wise to test their code when utilizing various kinds of these libraries: A single library flaw can make an entire system weak to malicious code.
Concern Four: Weak Authentication
Authentication mechanisms are one of your most crucial data security tools. In fact, weak authentication is considered one of the biggest privacy concerns facing today’s developers. As a developer yourself, effective authentication should be one of your security priorities.
One authentication mode is password-based—requiring a strong password policy capable of keeping a business’s data secure. Still, base-level password protection might not be secure enough. Instead, consider adopting multi-factor authentication to better secure your data. Multi-factor authentication can be achieved via email code authentication or OTP login. You can even verify identity with biometrics.
Concern Five: Ransomware
Ransomware is another leading concern for commercial software developers. This malicious software, designed to grant access to system data, has even become somewhat of a leading public threat. While this concern frequently results in business professionals changing strategies to comfort customers, the back-end of business—where programming happens—can still be exposed.
Concern Six: Artificial Intelligence
In the information age, true privacy requires full control over data storage, modification and exchange. As data mining techniques grow in complexity, privacy has become even more difficult to ensure. Now, artificial intelligence is on the table—gathering, analyzing and combining massive amounts of data from a variety of sources.
AI’s potential impact on data privacy is big, as its automation, speed and scale can easily outpace human analysts. AI is also good at utilizing big data sets for analysis, also performing tasks with great efficiency. For programmers and developers, this means AI’s inherent tracking capabilities can de-anonymize data based upon how it travels from device to device.
Concern Seven: Lacking Online Privacy
Every developer and programmer should use a VPN. An effective anchor VPN for Ubuntu, for example, can assure total IP and DNS protection from leaks during long coding sessions. While no tool can guarantee 100 percent anonymity, a VPN is one of the few tools which gets close.
It makes you difficult to track. A high-quality VPN provider will use industry-leading 256-bit encryption to protect all ingoing and outgoing traffic. They also won’t monitor your online activities, using DNS protection to keep your data safe.
Concern Eight: The Internet of Things
An over-reliance on fragile connections can lead to disruption: Internet network and smart device vulnerabilities, alongside poor security, can leave you open to attack. Gartner analysis estimates that we’ll see over 26 billion IoT devices deployed by 2020—each relying on potentially unprotected connectivity.
IoT devices are gateways to ransomware, leaving your data exposed from unseen angles. IoT technology usage requires a cohesive security strategy, one which integrates the manufacturer’s security protocols with your development team’s cybersecurity solutions. Make sure you initiate regular updates to mitigate device vulnerabilities, and don’t forget to prioritize your anti-ransomware protection.
Concern Nine: Blockchain Weaknesses
Blockchain technology arrived in 2008, penetrating a number of markets after being used in cryptocurrency. These days, blockchain technology is seen in healthcare companies, entertainment companies and financial institutions.
Blockchain’s peer-to-peer transfer model, however, has a few risks which include hashing weaknesses, weak encryption and poor key management. A compromised blockchain can lead to severe data breaches, so your department’s workers should be keen on implementing blockchain security infrastructure.
Concern Ten: Unsecured Devices
Securing your device might seem like a general privacy tip, but it’s also vital to your data protection. You can’t secure your data if you can’t put a key on its access points. Device security doesn’t end with your computer, either, as tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and virtual assistant devices all communicate with one another.
Each of these devices is at risk. Even if they don’t contain sensitive data, they’re doorways which lead to it.
Concern Eleven: Not Hashing Passwords
If you need to store several passwords for comparison, it might be a good idea to hash them—as opposed to encrypting them. With enough effort, a malicious programmer can locate a decryption key or algorithm.
Hashed passwords, meanwhile, have no direct reverse—which means nobody can discover its true arrangements unless they have a plain-text-to-hash map. Knowing a hash mechanism won’t betray your data integrity—but discovering an encrypted password’s scheme or keys can.
Concern Twelve: Software Backdoors
Some developers create backdoor access points for ease of system maintenance and various IT tasks. This is a mistake, however, as it can directly compromise all stored data in a network. It isn’t worth it to put backdoor access in any system—because even obscure access points can be identified with some code analysis and general programming knowledge.
Concern Thirteen: Malware
Malware, likely, will always be a concern for computer users. For developers and programmers, malware infiltration from websites, downloadable files, freeware and shareware can be devastating. To avoid data loss due to malware, it’s a good idea to conduct periodic spyware scans. Avoid clicking suspicious website and email links, too, because scammers are sneaky. Fortunately, most freeware and shareware applications don’t have malware.
Concern Fourteen: Readable Hard Drives
You’d be surprised how much information can be obtained from your old computing devices. Still, you can protect your data by making your old hard drives unreadable if you’re throwing them away.
Once you’ve backed up your data, or have transferred your hard drive’s files elsewhere, sanitize the device by disk shredding. Then, magnetically clean the disk to assure the hard drive isn’t readable. Make sure you destroy any backup tapes, too.
Concern Fifteen: Lapses in OS Updates
Operating system updates might be annoying, but they’re entirely necessary. Each update contains vital security patches which protect you from recently discovered threats. If you don’t update your operating system, you’ll be at risk.
Windows operating systems tend to receive automatic updates every month—on a day called “Patch Tuesday.” But other operating systems might not receive updates as frequently. For this reason, it’s a good idea to enable automatic system updates—so you’re guaranteed a higher degree of protection as soon as it becomes available.
Concern Sixteen: Unsecured Wi-Fi
Independent programmers and businesses alike need to protect their Wi-Fi’s integrity. Securing your network with a password prevents unauthorized individuals from hijacking your Wi-Fi, which can result in big data breaches. Even if they just want Internet access, you might inadvertently share sensitive information through a connection.
Workplace Wi-Fi networks should be encrypted, secure and hidden. Set up a wireless access point, or a router, so your network name isn’t broadcasted. Protect your router with a password, too.
Concern Seventeen: Always Using Administrator Rights
A good data security practice is the Principle of Least Privilege, or PoLP. This involves avoiding your system’s administrator accounts unless you need to perform important tasks. If you run your computer as administrator, you’ll leave your system—and your data—open to a number of exploits and security risks.
Even using a high-privilege account when visiting an unfamiliar Internet site can compromise your data. From file deletion to reformatted hard drives, administrative accounts face plenty of risks.
Concern Seventeen: Unsecured USB Drives and SIM Cards
If you’re backing up your data on a USB drive or SIM card, make sure you’ve encrypted it. If either is lost or stolen, they won’t be so easily accessed. This tip is particularly useful for those with smartphones—as encrypting your SIM card can directly protect your entire device from sensitive information theft.
Remember: Your data is incredibly valuable—but it’s incredibly easy to put at risk. Make sure those in your department are well-read in healthy data protection practices, and make sure your network, devices and data itself is as secure as possible. You won’t regret it.