Disruptive Innovations Risks and Hazards

Disruptive Innovations: Risks You Must Avoid

The risks of disruptive innovations can be endless. Technological advances and tools have become normalized in the modern world. And we do not hesitate before exposing our personal data, like bank account number, card details, name, phone number, and address on the online platforms. But there can be dangerous repercussions of such acts, and we may harm ourselves unknowingly. There are hackers and malicious attackers waiting to extract sensitive information and misuse them. The article digs deeper as to what can be the probable dangers of disruptive innovations.

The arrival of the new decade has witnessed some major technological disruptive innovations, targeted towards the improvement of the modern user experiences. All the industrial sectors are embracing disruptive innovations, which are beneficial and risky at the same time. As reported by the IDC in 2019, “By 2022, 60%+ of Global GDP Will Be Digitized, with Growth in Every Industry Driven by Digitally Enhanced Offerings, Operations, and Relationships and Almost $7 Trillion in IT-Related Spending in 2019–2022”.

The notable growth trajectory of disruptive innovations and technological advances are accompanied by several hazards. The organizations and businesses need to analyze before incorporating them. It is crucial for the organizations to understand the ways in which technologies can hamper the security in information technology, risk management, corporate security etc.

Smartphone penetration, increasing accessibility and affordability of the internet, on one hand, gives seamless user experience. While, on the other hand, threatens security breach and misuse of personal information. KPMG conducted a survey in 2019 and published a report which said, “Today’s increasingly security-conscious consumers voiced markedly different priorities regarding breaches, including proof that a threat or breach has been resolved (35 per cent), frequent updates on a breach (28 per cent) and compensation for any losses (42 per cent). Mobile consumers are also aware of today’s threats, citing theft or misuse of personal information via Apps (78 per cent) or Wi-Fi links (74 per cent) as top-of-mind regarding their security.”

Unfortunately, there have been several risk factors threatening disruptive innovations.

User Privacy Hampered by Disruptions

In 2018, Marriott International Inc encountered a massive security breach, where personal information of 500 million customers was hacked. This attack helped the hackers to get vital information about millions of customers, for example, their payment information, phone numbers, names, emails, passport details, travel details etc. The companies are facing tough challenges in safeguarding the information of the customers and clients from malicious hackers.

The recent years have seen several such cases where hackers contacted the customers posing as bank managers. They used to say the customer’s details like name and phone numbers etc to gain the trust, and then extract the card details and pin numbers from the customers. In India, several such cases have already occurred. The user details are there on almost the online platforms, like eCommerce platforms, internet banking sites etc. Hackers use their expertise in cyber hacking to extract all the necessary details from the open portals to misuse the information in various hazardous and unimaginable ways.

Disruptions By Malicious Chatbots

Chatbots are very common nowadays. Users interact with chatbots regarding various queries and doubts. In several occasions, these advanced algorithm based chatbots are spoofed. The customers, unaware of the original scenario, fall prey to the questions asked by the chatbots. Thus exposing the sensitive details unknowingly. Imposters can design malicious chatbots, giving them a fake identity of legitimate business, and then make it available in the app stores. The gadget-obsessed customers download the malicious chatbots on their smartphones. These chatbots then manage to get into direct interaction with the customers. They extract the personally identifiable information (PII) by pretending to solve the real queries of the concerned customers. Sometimes, hackers may not even make separate chatbots. Through malware, they can place the spoofed chatbots on the website of the legitimate business.

Reputation at Risk

In 2016, Microsoft launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot “Tay” via Twitter. It attracted controversy within 16 hours of its launch. The bot started posting offensive tweets, extremist and bigoted through its twitter accounts. “According to Microsoft, this was caused by trolls who “attacked” the service as the bot made replies based on its interactions with people on Twitter. It was soon replaced with Zo.”

The effects of Tay was relatively mild, as the reputed company Microsoft removed the malicious bot within hours of its launch. But, this mishap hinted at the unchecked efficiency of AI. Such kind of occurrences can prove to be detrimental for the organizations’ reputations.

AI is prone to be hacked, prone to errors and subject to biases that can cost the company’s reputation to a great extent. In 2018, the government of Australia designed an algorithm for detecting welfare fraud. The AI-based algorithm Centrelink started giving out false debt notice to welfare recipients. This resulted in a huge public outcry and the matter was investigated by the Australian Senate.  

Data Breach in Innovations

In 2019, IBM published a report on Data Breach, citing the price the businesses have to pay for such an unfortunate phenomenon. The report also mentioned that the average total cost of a Data Breach is $3.92 million. The average size of a Data Breach is 25,575 records, and the most expensive industry is healthcare, standing at $6.45 million.

“The same report goes on to determine that, while the average lifespan of a breach is 314 days, containing the breach to 200 days or less results in significant savings to organizations, i.e., some $1.2 million. Despite the best controls, data breaches do happen, but some measures that have proven helpful in containing their costs have been incident response teams and the use of encryption, according to research conducted by IBM Security.”

In 2019, several data breaches have wreaked havoc in India, as reported by Deccan Herald. French Cybersecurity expert Anderson revealed that there are several loopholes in the Aadhaar database security. The Aadhaar data of thousands of farmers were leaked in Andhra Pradesh, including their names, phone numbers, Aadhaar number, village, district etc. TechCrunch reported that the Unique Identification Number (UIN) of 1,66,000 government employees were leaked without passwords on the website of the Jharkhand government.

The new malicious applications also leaked the personal information, like name, gender, phone number, location of 419 millions of Facebook and Twitter users to third party holders. “Facebook confirmed that millions of unencrypted passwords were stored online in plain text, as per an advisory issued by Cert-In.”

 Faulty Assessments of Disruptions

Machine Learning is one of the most disruptive innovations of modern times. It can replace the human biases and prejudices from the equation, thus boosting fairness and equity in the system. This is only possible when the dataset and model are themselves free of biases. In 2018, Amazon built a tool for hiring resources but then had to shut it down as the tool was discriminating against women. The company designed the tool for automating recruiting, but then the plan backfired.

Business Insider reported another such incident when the machine became prey to the human biases. Many of the professionals writing the programs are not qualified enough, and this leads to faulty assessments by the machines. “Remedying algorithmic bias is a thorny issue, as algorithms can pick up on subconscious human bias. In 2016, ProPublica found that risk-assessment software used to forecast which criminals were most likely to reoffend exhibited racial bias against black people. Overreliance on AI for things like recruitment, credit-scoring, and parole judgments have also created issues in the past.”

Compromised ethics and public safety

As technological innovations and disruptions encroach into the daily life, addressing the ethical and legal issues of these disruptions gain primary importance. While manufacturing driverless cars, organizations often find themselves in a philosophical dilemma. When an accident is inevitable, is it acceptable if the car diverts its course to save more pedestrians risking the life of the passenger inside? Whose life must be prioritized, the life of the passenger of the lives of the pedestrians?

The risks of technological disruptions can be to a vast extent. From liquidating all the money of the bank accounts, to bringing down power plants, there are endless possibilities. All such risk factors are threatening public safety extensively. When attackers breach the security that protects the public infrastructure the repercussions are not just limited to any particular individual.

With the growing Internet of Things (IoT) to boost connectivity among machines and man, the hackers get infinite possibilities to harm society as a whole. As studied by Wipro, “The Internet of Things devices have low processing footprint and memories with minimal security capabilities, including patching. These devices are easy targets for hackers once they are online with an IP address. These hackers create custom malware to take total control and use them as a base for cyber-attacks.”


Regular assessment of company websites with a vulnerability scanner can help to understand the security loopholes. Many organizations hire cybersecurity consultants to penetrate deeper into the vulnerabilities and loopholes. Many management professionals have turned to software to keep tracks of risks and detect any fraud and anomalies. The social media platforms give access to all the information to hackers. The trolls and online bullies are offensive measures to hurt one’s sentiments. Cybersecurity cells are formed to deal with such trolls and threats coming from the online world.

With every solid object comes a shadow. In the same fashion, with every disruption innovation, there are more than one risk factors attached to it.

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