22 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Digital security will be of primary concern, says Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia founder advises companies to encrypt data

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat
10 Jan 2016 | 05:41 pm

Jimmy Wales’ reputation as Wikipedia founder is obviously larger than life. When he walks into the conference room at Sofitel The Palm for Dubaitalk, where he’s one of the speakers at The Change-Makers Forum hosted by Ericsson, hardly anybody gives him a second look. He’s of average height, sports a cropped beard that’s mostly white and is dressed in a nondescript jacket and open necked shirt.

Internet billionaire he certainly is not, and his talk centering around open-source, open-content technology, explained why; there’s no way he can monetize Wikipedia if he wants to retains its independence and its volunteer-based nature.

‘Whatever you do there’s bound to be a counterpoint,’ he said. ‘Initially parents were tearing their hair out about kids laying their lives bare on the internet. They wanted them to be more careful. And now when the kids are indeed very discreet – they chat anonymously on Snapchat – they are in an uproar over not being able to monitor them!’

However, the internet guru sounded a word of caution when leaving one’s footprint on the net. ‘People are indeed more cautious these days about their personal information,’ he said. ‘The real problem is security – making sure that our computers are safe. There are far too many instances of passwords being stolen, websites being hacked into and private information being made public. Most companies are lax where security is concerned. An employee with just an USB storage stick can walk out with literally the entire information his company treasures. It may not have happened yet, but it is just waiting to. I think we will see some major breaches in some big company, and then everybody will wake up after the fiasco.

Imagine 4 gigabytes of personal information stolen from Facebook and released on the net. The damage would be tremendous even if the information is relatively harmless. Think of the breach of trust. That’s why companies should ensure more security.’

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat

Features Writer