How does it feel to own the most valuable commodity?

How does it feel to own the most valuable commodity?

6th May 2020

Challenging times. The “new normal”.

There, I’ve said it and I promise I won’t say them again. These phrases are now being done to death as we edge towards the release of lockdown and start the process of moving towards the post-apocalyptic state which still has yet to be defined.

It’s been a strange few weeks too. Yes, we’ve seen the markets take a rather steep nosedive and a bit of a recovery but it is interesting how that previously most valuable commodity of oil is struggling to be given away. And few of us seem to realise what this means.

For some time, we, amongst others, have been banging our gums about the value of data and now there needs to be a moment of reflection from everyone about their value of data as it is most certainly now the most valuable commodity on the surface of the planet.

Look at how our behaviour has changed over the past month. If it wasn’t for our connected apps, we’d be plunged back into history rather significantly. Connected apps such as our favourite social media platforms have become busier and, somehow, more personal. Many of us have adopted new platforms such as video conferencing to maintain business relationships but these have also extended into our personal lives so that we can socialise over a beer/gin/wine and even hold quizzes.

Video conferencing has also seen the likes of Facebook hastily launch their own video conferencing application to “offer more choice”, apparently. Well, they certainly understand the value of your data, don’t they?

Let’s look at things another way, though. Let’s look at the value of your data from a criminal’s perspective and ask the question - when are you at your most valuable?

Some might say that your data is at your most valuable during periods like this when we’re all locked behind our own front doors. Advertisers would love to know what we’re thinking now so that they can target us with their product rather than risk us purchase a competitor’s product. Facebook can provide them with that data so, clearly, that’s a valuable use of your data to the advertiser.

But we need to look at this from a criminal’s perspective.

When is your identity most valuable to a criminal?

Easy. It’s when you’re dead.

This is a problem that has been bugging me for a while as it isn’t an easy subject to talk about but if you think about when people are at their most vulnerable, it is when they are subject to stress and emotion. We’re all subject to significant stress and emotional times at present so now is probably a good time to get this topic out in the open.

The death of a loved one is tragic, emotional and stressful and the state of grief overwhelms us. It makes us think and behave differently to “normal” yet people tend to behave similarly when going through the grieving process. This is a prime time for criminals to strike as we are vulnerable, pre-occupied and our guard is lowered.

Just looking through obituaries can provide a wealth of information about a family as the tributes go online. Criminals know the funeral home that is taking care of our loved one before the funeral and it would make sense for a successful criminal organisation to have access into such businesses in order to start their identity theft processes - after all, they have a steady supply of identities to start working with. Do we ever check the security credentials of our funeral supply chain? Unlikely. It’s the thing furthest from our minds.

So, picture the scene - we present the criminal fraternity with an identity, a network of family and friends, live-streamed funerals but, what else could be of value? Social media and email accounts - there’s the next target and what a treasure trove that could be. There’s a phenomenal video about this at:

It isn’t often that we talk about the worst that could happen to us or a loved one but we’re now at the point in time due to recent events where we may be more focused on the bad stuff. We’ve got to consider the value of our identities and the data that we hold now as that is something desirable by the criminal fraternity.

If you’re in the process of making a will then maybe consider to whom and how you’re going to pass on control of your identity and your data. Your data and your identity has significant value and it is far better for our loved ones to control our identity than be faced with dealing with the fallout of dealing with a case of identity theft slap bang in the middle of their grieving process.

If you’re in the funeral supply chain or maybe you’re helping clients form their wills, are you looking at the value of the data they hold and how control of that data can be included in the estate? Are you assuring clients of how you’re protecting the identity of their deceased?

It’s a weird concept that the most valuable thing we have is the thing we can’t touch, see or feel but it’s less of a weird concept than when we buy the commodity and burn it to get benefit!

Written by Stuart Green - Managing Director