The inevitability of big data hacks

Geeks often talk about “layer 8.” When an IT operator sighs resignedly that it’s a layer 8 problem, she means it’s a human’s fault. It’s where humanity’s rubber meets technology’s road. And big data is interesting precisely because it’s the layer 8 protocol. It’s got great power, demands great responsibility, and portends great risk unless we do it right. And just like the layers beneath it, it’s going to get good, then bad, then stable.


Other layers of the protocol stack have come under assault by spammers, hackers, and activists. There’s no reason to think layer 8 won’t as well. And just as hackers find a clever exploit to intercept and spike an SSL session, or trick an app server into running arbitrary code, so they’ll find an exploit for big data.

— Alistair Croll in Stacks get hacked: The inevitable rise of data warfare. Croll points out that with each new technology, there’s an evolution from good to bad to stable — and we should expect that same trajectory with big data.

Interesting to think about how large-scale exploits to corrupt the data about everything from public opinion on an issue to real estate attributes could have massive effects on decisions and markets.

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