It's an open secret that online privacy is diminishing at a rapid pace. But when large-scale data breaches occur or tech companies are embroiled in scandals, the repercussion is far-reaching and lasts for years.
These scandals have affected millions, and the dust has yet to settle in 2019.
Apple's Siri has evolved to be an intelligent app that allows you to command iOS devices to do almost anything. But what many users didn't realize is how snippets of recordings have been sent to contractors working with the company, without the consent of the users.
What's alarming is these recordings, can be traced to the location and details of the users, in an outright breach of privacy. Apple has since released an iOS 13.2 update that allows users to disable the sharing of the recorded audios by Siri.
Amidst the trade war between two of the world's largest economies, Sabrina Meng, CFO of Huawei, was arrested by the Canadian authorities at the request of their US counterparts. The telecommunication giant was subsequently charged with defying US sanctions on Iran.
The US government believed that Huawei poses a national security threat and accused the company of stealing US-based technologies. For Beijing, the arrest is nothing more than a political maneuver to stifle China's growth in the technological sphere.
It was all calm until the shocking news broke in 2018. Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that is responsible for Donald Trump's election campaign, has harvested more than 50 million users' data on Facebook, through improper means.
The bombshell caused Facebook's users in the US to drop by numbers, and the social media giant eventually fined $5 billion. However, the question remains if the penalty is sufficient to change how Facebook manages its billions of users' data.
Google+ may have been unplugged for typical consumers in 2019, but not before the revelation that up to 500,000 users' data are compromised for years. There was a security flaw on the platform that goes unnoticed for a while, and when it was discovered, it only announced to the public 7 months later.
Barely a couple of months after the disclosure, Google+ discovered another flaw that leaves a staggering 52.5 million users data vulnerable. While the data breach was fixed in 6 days, it leaves a huge question mark if Google is doing enough to protect its huge database of users' data.
Demant, the world's largest hearing aid manufacturer, suffered losses of a staggering $95 million by a ransomware attack in Sept 2019. The attack left Demant's entire infrastructure crippled, and recovery took weeks instead of days.
The ransomware incident is also one of the costliest in recent cases of singular attack. Estimates on the losses include the loss of sales, which have a rippling effect on many of the clinics that depend on Demant's hearing aids.
These incidents are only the tip of the icebergs of other scandals that are hitting the tech industry. But they are sufficient to spark discussions on our interest as these tech giants deal with the uncertainties and damaging consequences.