Fading Personal Data

Posted by Keith McMillan

June 16, 2010 | 1 Comment

Have you ever looked at your address book and seen an entry for someone you haven’t talked to in years? I usually think to myself “I wonder if that phone number is still good.” Sometimes I even wonder if people are still alive.

A Dutch information security researcher wants to use a concept similar to that to try to protect all that information about us that’s stored on line, according to an article at the BBC.  The idea would be to have your information “degrade” over time, just like your confidence in whether that email address for Joanne is still any good.

At initial use to secure a transaction or get useful information from a search all relevant details might be stored. Subsequently details would slowly be swapped for more general information.

It’s an interesting concept. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of looking to the physical world for solutions to problems in the digital one. I’ve frequently thought it would be interesting to look into mimicking the animal immune system for a computer anti-virus system, for instance.

Of course, Europe has better controls, and a different view, of information security than the US. It’s likely that any system like the one outlined by Dr. Heerde could be mandated here, because unlike Europe, in the US businesses own the information they collect about you, rather than you owning your own information. Still, it’s an idea to feed to the grist mill, and perhaps something interesting will come out the other side.


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1 Comment »

Comment by Peter H. Coffin
2010-06-16 10:07:21

Random snippet sort of related to this: on a large scale, about 1% of email addresses go permanently bad per month for individual reasons, like the person has left the company, or they quit using the ISP, or they abandon an identity in favor of something else, or they quit using an address because they’ve no other resource handy to deal with the spam level. Another 0.25% to 0.5% or so go bad for organizational reasons: ISP/company bought by another finally stops forwarding addresses, or vanity domain is left to lapse, etc.

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