3 Positive Business Takeaways in 2020

Although 2020 has been filled with many unfortunate events like the coronavirus pandemic, there have been some positive business developments. Here are three of them.

It is not uncommon to hear people say that they can’t wait until 2020 is over. The human and financial losses resulting from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic combined with record unemployment, escalating social unrest, extreme weather, and other dark forces are pushing people close to their breaking point.

However, there have been some positive developments in 2020. For example, lockdowns have enabled family members to spend more time together and animal shelters are emptying because families are adding new furry members to their clan. Here are three more positive developments that occurred in 2020:

 

  1. Cybercriminals Are Getting Caught

When reading or watching the news, it typically doesn’t take long to come across stories about hackers’ latest dastardly deeds. The same can’t be said about stories of how law enforcement and the courts are bringing these cybercriminals to justice. It takes some digging to find stories like these:

  • In June 2020, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested email scammer Ramon Abbas in the United Arab Emirates and extradited him to the United States. The charges brought against him include hacking, identity theft, bank fraud, money laundering, and conning a US citizen out of $922,000 in a business email compromise (BEC) scam.
  • In July 2020, the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, US Secret Service, and Florida law enforcement arrested the teen who hijacked the Twitter accounts of many rich and famous people, including Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama. It took them only two weeks to identify and lock up 17-year-old Graham Clark and one of his accomplices.
  • In November 2020, three suspects were arrested in Nigeria following a joint investigation by INTERPOL, the Nigeria Police Force, and the cybersecurity firm Group-IB. The suspects are believed to be members of a notorious cybergang responsible for distributing malware, conducting BEC scams, and carrying out phishing attacks in more than 150 countries.

Just knowing that sometimes the good guys win and the bad guys get carted off to jail can make the world seem right again.

 

  1. Working from Home Is Gaining Acceptance

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, governments around the world started issuing shutdown orders. To remain operational, many businesses resorted to letting their employees work from home.

In the months that ensued, many company executives began to realize that their fears about working remotely were unfounded. For example, a common notion is that employees’ productivity will plummet if they work from home unsupervised. But that is not the case. In one study, 94% of the 800 participating companies said their employees’ productivity stayed the same or improved since they began working remotely. Even more telling is that a third of those 800 employers anticipate that at least 50% of their employees will continue to work remotely once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Another study reported similar numbers. A third of the 330 participating companies said they expect that at least 40% of their employees will continue to work remotely once the pandemic ends.

 

  1. Ensuring Data Privacy Is Getting Easier

Businesses often want to collect and analyze data about their customers so they can provide products and services of value to those individuals. However, companies need to keep the identities of their customers private as well as protect the data from prying eyes. This is especially important for businesses that must adhere to data privacy regulations like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Although companies can use traditional privacy-preserving tools to protect customers’ identities, these tools often have drawbacks. For instance, anonymization reduces the value of the data. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: differential privacy. It allows businesses to collect and share valuable aggregate data about customers while keeping their identities private. This is achieved by adding random noise to the aggregate data.

“The differential privacy model guarantees that even if someone has complete information about 99 of 100 people in a data set, they still cannot deduce the information about the final person,” according to one expert. “With differential privacy, the raw data cannot be accessed by data scientists or database managers. Differential privacy gives organizations a way to solve the privacy problem as well as build trust.”

Differential privacy is proving to be reliable, even with extremely large data sets. It is currently being used to protect the identities of the 330 million people who filled out the 2020 US Census — the largest application of the model to date.

So, if you are one of those 330 million people, you can rest assured that your data will stay private and still be valuable to the many groups that use it.