Intelligent World 2030: The Future of Data Security


    Dec 30, 2021

    In our Intelligent World 2030 report, we discuss how technology will change almost every aspect of life. Focusing on “8 outlooks”, we explore how everything from healthcare and transport to food production and living spaces will become smarter, greener, and more intuitive.

    As technology reshapes our interactions across these areas, establishing digital trust has become a key priority for businesses and governments. Without building users’ confidence the tools and processes of the intelligent world, it simply won’t succeed.

    However, digital trust is a complex system. It requires a combination of both digital and regulatory measures — as well as the cooperation of multiple parties. In the final post of this series, we look at how technology and regulations can work together to ensure a more secure digital future.

    Taking a technical approach

    It goes without saying that digital solutions are key to building digital trust. In fact, the security and integrity of our digital assets rely on a vast range of technologies to detect and protect against threats.

    • Blockchain

    Although blockchain made its name in cryptocurrency, it’s now redefining trust in various other industries. And by 2030, we expect that 85% of companies will integrate blockchain into their digital trust systems.

    By storing data in a decentralized network, blockchain ensures that no single entity retains control. Once created, information stored on the blockchain cannot be altered, creating a ‘trustless’ environment in which the original data is protected. These inherent security measures make it suitable for any kind of digital transaction — not just financial.

    Indeed, one of the most exciting use cases outside of digital currency is in smart contracts. Drafting formal agreements — whether for bank loans, mortgages, or insurance claims — is typically expensive and time-consuming. That’s because multiple parties must be involved to ensure its legality and trustworthiness.

    Smart contracts streamline these processes by encoding a set of promises between two parties. The code runs on blockchain, which means it is stored on a public database and impossible to alter. Transactions only happen when the conditions of the contract are met, eliminating the hassle (and expense) of involving intermediaries like lawyers, banks, or brokers.

    To put that into context, Capgemini Consulting predicts that smart contracts could help US consumers save US$480–960 per mortgage loan, cut operational fees for banks in the US and EU markets by US$3–11 billion, and reduce the cost of claim settlements for insurers by $21 billion per year. That’s all in addition to making transactions safer, more accurate, and reliable.

    • Artificial Intelligence

    As the world becomes increasingly digitized, cybercriminals are finding new, more sophisticated ways to steal victims’ personal information or money.

    One method that’s made headlines in recent years is “deep fakes”. These are images or videos altered using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to replace the person in the original with someone else.

    They are often eerily lifelike, making it difficult to tell a real from a fake. Although deep fakes are most commonly used to attack celebrities and politicians, high-profile figures aren’t the only ones at risk. In 2019, a British energy firm lost US$243,000 after a scammer used a voice deepfake to impersonate the organization’s CEO demanding the money be sent to an overseas ‘supplier’.

    A British energy firm lost US$243,000 after a scammer used a voice deep fake to impersonate the organization’s CEO demanding the money be sent to an overseas ‘supplier’

    The answer to fighting such crime lies with AI itself. Intelligent software can detect differences between videos, images, and audio waves to determine whether they were created using AI. Discriminator algorithms and casual inference models can automatically detect, assess, and remove fake information from the internet. And they can trace fake information back to the data source to provide evidence for the prosecution of digital crimes.

    In other words, AI will make it easier to identify, stop, and prevent cybercrime, helping restore trust in the digital world.

    • Privacy-enhancing Computation

    To extract value from the data they collect, organizations must share, mine, and analyze it. But doing so without compromising the privacy and security of customer data is often a challenge. 

    Although data masking technologies exist, traditional tools can’t provide sufficient protection for increasingly complex analytics environments. This has led to the creation of privacy-enhancing computation (PEC) technologies, which are specifically designed to strengthen data privacy and security during collection, storage, search, and analysis.

    Homomorphic encryption is an example of PEC technology. It allows users to perform computations on encrypted data without having to first decrypt it, making it safer to share with third parties. This is particularly useful for sectors like healthcare that rely on third parties to research and develop new services, but cannot compromise the security of patient data.

    Other examples of PEC technologies include differential privacy, federated learning, trusted execution environment, and zero-knowledge proofs. Together, they are helping organizations find the right balance between privacy and data value.  

    Regulating the digital world

    Technical measures can only go so far in preventing cyberattacks and data breaches. To ensure a safe, secure digital world, they must be backed by rules and regulations that define what information organizations can collect, how they can use it, and how violations will be punished.

    The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a great example of this. Aiming to strengthen the security and protection of personal data in the EU, the law sets stringent guidelines on how companies may collect and process customer information, with penalties reaching up to €20 million. To date, over €1.29 billion worth of fines have been issued.

    Likewise, as digital platforms grow bigger and more powerful, antitrust rules must be established to ensure they don’t abuse their positions. To better regulate such organizations, Japan recently introduced the Act on Improving Transparency and Fairness. Similarly, Germany made amendments to the German Competition Act in 2021 in an effort to prevent large platforms from dominating markets and stifling competition.

    These are just a few examples of regulations designed to govern data protection, collection, and antitrust. In the future, we can expect to enjoy more rights against conglomerates, preventing them from illegally obtaining, abusing, and trading our personal data.

    Looking to 2030

    By 2030, technology will play a key role in almost everything we do. It will predict our needs, personalize our services, and protect our planet. Beneath all the changes we’ll witness will be a robust digital trust ecosystem protecting the privacy and integrity of all our digital interactions. Put simply, emerging technologies and new regulations will work together to shape a safer digital future. 

    Want to know more about the future of digital trust? Download our Intelligent World 2030 report.

    Learn more about our predictions for digital trust.

    What else will be different in the Intelligent World 2030? Download our Intelligent World 2030 report to find out more.

    Further Reading

    Don’t miss the previous posts in this series:

    1. 8 Outlooks for Intelligent World
    2. Intelligent World 2030: How Will You Experience Healthcare in the Future?
    3. Intelligent World 2030: Food for Thought
    4. Intelligent World 2030: There’s No Place Like Home
    5. Intelligent World 2030: In the Fast Lane to the Future
    6. Intelligent World 2030: What Will Your City Look Like?
    7. Intelligent World 2030: A New Age of Productivity for Business
    8. Intelligent World 2030: Smart About the Future with Green Energy


    Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.


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