An Interview with Dr. Priya E. Abraham
Dr. Priya E. Abraham is a business anthropologist with more than 20 years of experience IT leading several large and complex digital transformation projects. The commonality she found in many enterprises was that they all struggled in executing their digital strategy and the human-centric aspects of the transformation process. She is now using her unique background to advise the next generation of workers: digital nomads and solopreneurs, and has recently released an ebook on the subject.
We had the opportunity to interview her and have her share her views on the future of work and cybersecurity.
It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 1 billion people working remotely around the globe. How does this bode for the cybersecurity landscape in the future? Do you feel that solopreneurs will have to step up their cybersavviness as a result?
The future of work has started already; just a few years ago business forecasts reported about the socio-economic, technological, and cultural changes in the global workforce. Despite the fact that digital nomads are often perceived as a hype and described with largely distorted biases, they have already heavily impacted the employment market.
By next year, many experts estimate half of the working population in the U.S. to be freelancers -- and by 2030, one billion digital nomads globally. Many forward-thinking companies and governments are doing what they can to leverage this workforce; companies are establishing better collaboration with remote workers and digital nomads, and digital leadership nations have established mechanisms to attract and retain this talent by offering e-residency, the possibility to incorporate fully digitally operable companies and by creating communities and services for these solopreneurs.
As the landscape for solopreneurs and digital nomads grows however, data and privacy breaches will continue to be an ever-growing concern. Last year alone saw more than 1 billion people who had their data compromised, and Q1 of 2019 has already reported 4.5 billion records exposed.
We live in a world of digital privacy asymmetry. Consumers know very little about the companies and data brokers that know so much about them. Clearly, that is their business. Nevertheless, privacy is personal. It concerns every step we take. It is the data that is harvested about us, bought, sold, and turned into profit. One of the latest trends in privacy is consumer’s demand for greater online agency and control of their data.
In response to this demand, policy makers are frantically attempting to catch up on regulations to help consumers protect their digital rights. Despite their good intentions, these regulatory gaps keep getting wider as technology advances ever more rapidly, touching literally every domain of our lives. In 2018, we saw global privacy data laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Israeli Data Security Regulation. These laws have now made corporate giants such as Google and Facebook responsible for their consumer’s data protection.
As an entrepreneur, you need to routinely make informed decisions about how to present yourself and your brand in cyberspace whilst protecting your and your clients’ privacy. Solopreneurs need to lead this trend, not just for legal reasons but also to be informed and act as a role model. This means you must think critically about your displayed digital behaviour as well as the connected guidelines and cultural principles you use with your networked team. These principles should be solidly built on cybersecurity, which constitute business continuity, privacy and data protection.
Describe the profile or profiles of the typical solopreneur and the use cases for ensuring their client's security and safety.
Consultants, makers, developers, startup entrepreneurs, UX designers, coaches, and authors are all different types of solopreneurs. These workers enjoy an unprecedented amount of freedom and can often work independent of their location. They don’t typically work alone but in a networked team. This is where cybersavviness, whose core ingredients include cybersecurity, privacy and brand, come into play.
Cybercapacity is the combination of privacy and cybersecurity in a business environment.
It is essential that solopreneurs and their teams or networks understand the components of cybercapacity and cybersavviness. To truly develop cyberpower, solopreneurs will need to lead by example in their daily routines and displayed behaviours. For example, instead of saying “I will google that”, start saying “I will duck that” and then use the DuckDuckGo browser instead, which ensures greater privacy in contrast with Google -- who keep a record of your online interactions including your online purchases. So make sure you install your cybersecurity toolbox with DuckDuckGo and go “duck it!’.
But cybersavviness is not only the solopreneurs responsibility. Stepping up the cybersavviness ladder is a reciprocal process: Companies who work with solopreneurs need to have the necessary cybersecurity measures in place to ensure that solopreneurs handle data responsibly. These processes need to be in place as early as in the recruitment and the onboarding of the remote workers.
What do you feel is the best way for these different solopreneurs to ensure their client’s security and safety? Are there different tools and tips depending on the different profiles and different use cases or a few basic concepts?
Here are a few basic concepts any solopreneur can start to quickly implement to strengthen their client’s security and safety:
The interview was conducted at the Women at Work conference in Vienna in June 2019.
Digital transformation strategist | Privacy advisor | Cyber anthropologist | Author