All About Government Data Mining And Its Most Recent Breaches In 2021

Data collection is one of the most common practices in the world. Every organization collects some kind of data, whether it is for security reasons or just to get a head start for potential growth opportunities. Companies and governments can use data collection to form strategies and policies which can be beneficial for them in the future. One of the most common institutions that follow the practice of data collection is the Government. Many governments around the world have a source called open government data which can be used to collect information about different industries within the country. 

In this article, we will shed some light on the open government data and some of the recent data breaches in 2021. 

What is Open Government Data?

Open government data facilitates government organizations to release their datasets in open format. These data collections are free for the public to use for the case study and other analysis and are also available as Software as a Service (SaaS).

OGD works as a connecting link for citizens, the government, and the community to create an Open Data ecosystem in the country.

Reasons for Open Government Data

There are mainly three reasons for open government data collection- 

1. Transparency

In a democratic society, people need to know about what their government is doing for the country. The citizens must be allowed to access the government data and information and to share that information with other citizens. Transparency is not just about access, it is also about reuse and sharing and to understand the data it needs to be visualized and analyzed.

2. Releasing commercial and social value

Data is a key resource for commercial and social activities in this digital age. Everything from finding a local police station to building a new search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by the government. By giving access to the data, the government can help to boost the creation of innovative businesses and services that deliver commercial and social value.

3. Participatory Governance

Most of the time, citizens of a country only get a chance to participate with their government specifically, maybe due to elections every 4 to 5 years. By giving access to data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly involved and informed about the decision-making. It’s about making a full “read/write” society and not just about transparency, it is about being able to contribute to the process of governance.

What is Government Data Mining?

Government data mining applications are widely used in various industries because they enable relatively inexpensive and quick analysis of massive numbers of data. This makes data mining a very effective tool for different uses under the federal government, which implies it reduces the risk of terrorist attacks. Data mining has been increasingly used to help detect threats to national security since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. 

Government Data Mining: Privacy issues

By analyzing and collecting private and public sector data, government data mining can identify potential terrorists or other dangerous activities. 

However, this raises concerns in the citizens about their data privacy. The issues raised concerns about accuracy and quality of the mined data, protection of the data, and the right of individuals to know that their personal information is being collected.

To help and strike a balance between privacy and its use for national security, a better understanding of government data mining is very important. By explaining who uses it and why it is used could be helpful to find a solution for the ethical implications of data mining. 

Recent Data Breaches in 2021

Here is a list of some of the recent data breaches in 2021- 

1. Ubiquiti Inc.

January 11, 2021:  Ubiquiti, Inc., One of the biggest Internet of Things (IoT) technology vendors, altered its customers of a data breach that was caused by unauthorized access to their database through a third-party cloud provider. The email suggested customers enable multi-factor authentication and change passwords. The data exposed may include an undisclosed number of email addresses, customer names, hashed and salted passwords, phone numbers, and addresses. 

2. Parler

January 11, 2021: News of Parler, a conservative social media app having its data attacked by hackers came to light when Amazon Web Services removed the platform from its servers. The 70TB of leaked information includes 99.9% of posts, video data containing EXIF data — metadata of date, location and time, and messages. Users who identified themselves by using their driver's license or other government-issued photo ID on the Parler app were also exposed. 

3. Mimecast

January 12, 2021: Mimecast is a cloud-based email management service that provides Microsoft 365 accounts with email security services. A cybercriminal leaked a certificate used to authenticate Continuity Monitor, and Internal Email Protect (IEP), and Mimecast's Sync and Recover products to Microsoft 365. 

Approximately 10 percent of its customers used the compromised connection according to the company. Since then, the customers have been asked to reinstall a newly issued certificate.

4. MeetMindful

January 24, 2021: MeeMindful.com is a dating platform that was attacked by a well-known hacker, and its user's account personal information and details were posted for free in a hacker forum. 

The leaked information of more than 2.28 million users registered included-

  • Email addresses 
  • Location details
  • Names
  • Dating preferences
  • Marital status
  • Birth dates
  • IP addresses
  • Bcrypt-hashed account passwords
  •  Facebook authentication tokens a
  • Facebook user IDs. 

5. VIPGames

January 26, 2021: VIPGames.com is a free gaming platform that exposed over 23 million records for more than 66,000 mobile and desktop users because of a cloud misconfiguration. The leaked user records include emails, IP addresses, usernames, hashed passwords, Facebook, Google, and Twitter IDs, bets, and data on players who were banned from the platform.

Conclusion

  • Data collection is a very sensitive and important process. Data can include anything from a person's name to their work location so it is very important to keep it safe.
  • Open government data provides unique prospects by allowing everyone to have access to the data that can be used to analyze and form opinions.
  • Government data mining can be a very effective tool if used correctly and responsibly.
  • Data breaches in 2021are still a common occurrence. Companies and governments around the globe are taking action to improve their security measures to provide full privacy. 
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