November 9, 2022

Data Reimagined: Jodi Daniels and Justin Daniels

Your customers face a harsh reality as consumers today. From the supermarket to the coffee shop, personal data is part of most transactional exchanges. Despite your company’s best efforts, customers’ privacy and security are at stake. Every purchase is vulnerable to hackers, threat hackers, and rapidly changing technologies.

Data privacy and cyber security experts, Jodi and Justin Daniels show how to leverage your company’s privacy and security practices to transform your relationship with customers and earn their trust. 

Welcome back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty, and I’m very excited to be joined by authors Jodi and Justin Daniels to celebrate and talk about the launch of their new book, Data Reimagined: Building Trust One Byte at a Time.

All right, with Jodi and Justin. Thank you so much for joining me today on Author Hour. Our amazing audience, they’re pretty much generalists. So we don’t have to get super technical, but they could do that by going to your podcast, of course, or tuning into your book. I am so excited to have you because I just want to give our audience a little bit of a personal background of you, and then we can jump into all the other fun questions I have.

Jodi Daniels: That sounds great, thank you.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, yeah, let’s do it. So tell me a little bit about both of you; your background, to how you came into this tech world. You obviously worked together in some capacities. Tell me a little bit about that.

Justin Daniels: Ladies first.

Jodi Daniels: No, I’m being nice today.

Justin Daniels: Are you having an out-of-body experience?

Jodi Daniels: I might.

Justin Daniels: All right, I guess I’m going first. So I am the Justin of the Jodi and Justin Show. My day job is I am a Corporate MNA and Transactional Attorney Partner at the law firm Baker Donelson. We’re like an M law, 100 law firm. So my practice is really all about technology. 

I do some normal stuff like FinTech, software as a service, but then I do what I call the exotic part of my practice, which I have worked on autonomous vehicles, drones. I also run the cryptocurrency, and digital assets practice at my firm, and because everything I deal with this technology, cybersecurity comes up on every deal. 

So I have also handled my fair share of ransomware and business email compromise, wire fraud, and I am the cybersecurity part of the She Said Privacy/He Said Security Podcast.

Jodi Daniels: And hi, I’m Jodi Daniels of the Jodi and Justin Show, and I started a data privacy consulting company called Red Clover Advisors five years ago, and we’re all about helping companies to understand and what to do with complex privacy laws. We try and make it simple to understand and practical so that customers can build trust, or I guess rather, companies can build trust with their customers.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow, okay. So I got to ask — and I’m sure everyone does because I’m very much a newbie when I hear anything cyber security if you will. It’s just jumbled in my mind as this one area that’s confusing but needed. So you know, you have the few apps that take care of you like when I travel, the app that you download on your phone makes sure nobody hacks your stuff. 

Anyway, I obviously, as you can tell, I’m very much a newbie, and so most of our audience are probably in that world as well. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between how you guys see — obviously, we talk about privacy and you talk about security — what can you describe to me about the two worlds. Obviously, you’ve been able to put them together, can you go a little bit deeper into that?

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Justin Daniels: So I’ll start. I want your audience to think of privacy and security much like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Oh, I love that idea. That’s good.

Justin Daniels: Think of privacy as peanut butter and think of security as jelly, and what I mean by that is, they’re very much related, but they’re not the same thing. And so, from a security perspective, what we’re really talking about is, we now live in a world where we’re almost exclusively reliant on computers and technology.

So, all of this data that’s going around has become extremely valuable. Meaning, even your company, if Scribe Media, didn’t have access to its own IT infrastructure and its data, the company couldn’t function.

So criminals have figured out, “If I can ransomware your company,” which is basically, think of your house and if someone were able to lock all the doors and windows and say, “Hey, if you’d like to get back in your house, pay me a million dollars,” that’s what ransomware is. Instead of it being your house, it’s your information technology infrastructure.

So cyber security has become a hugely important thing because it overlays every industry you and I could talk about. From books to digital media, to carwashes, we’re all in the data business, whether we realize it or not. I’m going to leave the best analogy to privacy and security here to my pal, Jodi.

Jodi Daniels: So if you think about your house and you put an alarm on, and you lock it all up, you prevent bad people from coming into your house. So it’s really secure. Except, if you left all the window shades open, I can just peek on in and see everything that you’re doing. It’s not really very private.

So from a privacy point of view, if you think about the data that a company has, once it’s inside, the security is all about protecting it from people who shouldn’t have access to it but on the privacy side, it doesn’t mean that the people who do have access to it can do anything that they want with it.

For example, think about emails that you get and did you ask for those? The flyer you get in the mail, did you ask for that? The ads that you see around the Internet that might be trying to convince you to buy that light fixture that you didn’t continue to buy. All of that is how data is used. So it might be really well protected, but the privacy side is how it’s been used.

Justin Daniels: Because I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed in the last two weeks of getting political ads on my cellphone.

Jodi Daniels: Those are excluded from all the laws.

Justin Daniels: Yes, but it still makes me angry that they’re sending me texts to my phone, which I consider a pretty personal thing for political ads.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Right, which is interesting that they’re excluded from all the laws. I have a much better understanding just by using those two analogies, you’ve sort of described to me the two very important roles that this peanut butter and jelly, privacy and security, play in my everyday life, and I appreciate that.

So you came together, and you wrote a book. You wrote a book about this called Data Reimagined: Building Trust One Byte at a Time. I love the pun. So tell me a little bit about this book and why did you guys decide that it’s very important to write something like this, and who did you write it for?

Jodi Daniels: I’m going to start this time.

Justin Daniels: Yeah.

Jodi Daniels: My turn.

Justin Daniels: Shocking. Back to normal.

Jodi Daniels: So we started years ago doing a lot of conferences together and joint presentations, and then when the pandemic hit, there was a significant turn to remote work, and companies were trying to figure out what they needed to do from a security perspective, and we found ourselves doing many more webinars and podcast on that topic. 

Privacy laws, especially here in the United States, have also picked up steam in the last several years. There’s a large global standard privacy law in Europe, it’s called GDPR, and it’s been around for four plus years being effective.

And in the United States in 2023, there’s going to be five state privacy laws, with California leading the way, and companies have been, for the last couple of years, trying to figure out this privacy thing. Also in the pandemic, we started with our podcast, She Said Privacy/He Said Security.

We kind of took the webinar and conference and podcast that we were guests on and we turned it around to have different conversations with the podcast that we were hosting. So the next thought was, as we keep talking to all these companies and continue to see the same gaps in them, we thought if we pulled all of that knowledge together into a book, then we could help educate and reach more companies to be able to help them start a privacy program.

Maybe there’s one person in the organization who kind of gets privacy and security but they’re having a hard time convincing everybody else to join and rally and get the resources that they need. So I’m going to let Justin finish this specific audience of who we wrote the book for.

Justin Daniels: Oh, I got that part?

Jodi Daniels: Yeah, you get that part. I’m so nice.

Justin Daniels: So the specific audience that we wrote the book for is really business executives. So think about CEO, the CFO, the business owner, with the point being, how can they reimagine the relationship that they have with data? Because now, data collection can draw such a detailed portrait of what you do in your every day life that how you treat someone’s data, in our view, is by extension how you treat them.

And trust is now the most precious commodity in business today in terms of building a relationship with your customer, and we’ve seen over the last several years with big tech and how they collect data and vacuum that up and don’t really care about privacy, and there’s been a big back lash about that.

So we look at this as something that is a strategic opportunity to help create a better relationship with your customer by how you treat their data, and since it’s not easy to do, it’s really an opportunity for companies to really carve out a competitive advantage versus the competition.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: It’s really powerful and you dive right into this in your book. You talk about the power of trust and why that’s so important, especially going forward because you’re right. You know, I have Instagram and I have Facebook, everything, but it’s all removed from my phone.

One, because it’s an addiction at this point and two, I felt used and abused in a way, right? And it’s very frustrating but also it’s like you’re feeling like you’re getting FOMO because you’re missing out about life and culture, but talk to me about trust a little bit. Why is it so important between me, the customer or the consumer or whatever, and even in business?

I own a small business, I want to make sure everything is protected and whoever I work with, their data is protected, but you’re 100% right because trust to do that work or to be able to work for someone or with someone, that’s probably the number one thing that I would think about is that my information, my stuff is in good hands and that you’re taking care of that.

You would think data and privacy and all these things are the number issue for every company because let’s be honest, we also hear about ransomware with small gas station companies, and you hear about these stories that are tucked under the rug but they’re a big deal, and that’s happening every single day. So, how do we, as a business, create that trust and make sure that we implement security and privacy measures going forward?

Justin Daniels: I think that we should answer this by quoting Jodi relaying a story about when she purchased a cup of coffee, and Jodi has a birthday coming up. Now, I won’t say how old she’s going to be because I’ll be sent to the penalty box, but she’s gotten some interesting emails wishing her happy birthday from places you wouldn’t expect because she had to give them her birthday.

Jodi Daniels: So the coffee story is like many people, I like to buy things with credit cards, and there’s been multiple occasions where I’ve traveled, I’ve gone to the coffee shop, given them my card, I get my awesome cup of coffee, and then, I get an email.

Maybe it’s the same day, maybe it’s the next day, and often, the very first question is, “Give me your birthday, so that we can treat you to a free cup of coffee,” or 10% off or something like that and I’m thinking, “Well, we just got to know each other, you don’t even know if I’m in there area and ever coming back to your coffee shop. I haven’t even decided if I like your coffee.”

The kicker to all of it is, I didn’t give them my email. I just gave them my credit card and the payment technology provider that they use, once upon a time, if you ever gave them your email, they’ve automatically shared that email and setup a sequence with the different other companies.

So in my situation, it was coffee companies, and one, there’s already a privacy issue that some people might not like that but if you think about the trust piece, I don’t know who these people are. They haven’t warmed up to me, we haven’t formed a relationship for me to give them something kind of sensitive, which is my birthday.

Some people are perfectly fine with that, some people aren’t. If you think about when you go shopping for anything, you’re trying to get convinced that that product or service is going to meet your needs. It’s something you have to have, it’s something that’s going to make you feel good, it’s going to solve a problem. 

There’s an element of trust, I believe this is going to be good for me. The same has to happen when you give that data or when you receive messaging from the company. If there’s any uncomfortable feeling of a, “Hmm, that’s a little surprising of how they used my data” or “I wasn’t expecting that” you’re not going to create that element of trust.

How many people listening have ever used PayPal as supposed to giving a website your credit card? Every time someone makes that decision, it’s because I trust PayPal or maybe it’s a little bit easier, but most of the times when I ask people this question, they choose because it’s more trustworthy than giving my credit card to yet another website.

The birthday example is, I recently bought a car and you have to give all kinds of sensitive information, right, to get a car loan and I just received an email that says, “Happy birthday.” Now, they got the month right, maybe they purposefully didn’t send it on the exact day to make me feel better, I don’t know.

But I didn’t say that they could use my birth date in my finance application to send me a birthday email. That means they’ve put that in their marketing database. I didn’t say that was okay and I don’t even know how I would unsubscribe from that option. It is not about the one email and I love my birthday. So anyone listening, you can wish me happy birthday, I love it. 

Justin Daniels: How old are you going to be? 

Jodi Daniels: I’m going to be a really lovely age and that’s all you need to know. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: How young are you going to be? That’s the real question. Happy birthday, yes. 

Jodi Daniels: But it’s the element of surprise. I wasn’t expecting an organization to wish me a happy birthday with data that was used for really sensitive topic. I didn’t expect a coffee shop to use my data from a payment provider that I never said was okay to share it with every vendor ever possible and ask me for a really sensitive piece of information first. 

It’s all about connecting with the individual and that’s how you build trust to buy products and services, and the element of trust extends to the data as well. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Interesting and very powerful. I mean, you’re 100% right, there are so many things that we don’t necessarily sign up for and if we do, it is the fine print and there is so many layers, I feel. When it comes to it, it is obvious why the subject is very touchy and very — just stands out in our culture today because it is a hard topic, you know? 

Because everyone has a different preference like you said, some people care, some people don’t care and so that makes it, just in general, that makes it hard, and then to develop a law or rules or boundaries to all of these things would add a whole different layer of difficulties, if I understand that, but what a powerful analogy and you’re right. 

You feel like you kind of give up building trust. I haven’t dated you long enough, you can’t just take all my info, coffee cup place, you know what I’m saying? 

Jodi Daniels: That’s exactly right. We use that analogy too. 

Justin Daniels: That’s straight out of the book. I don’t know if you have thought about this, but when you get in your car, it can now track pressure on the pedal. It can track how quickly you’re driving. There is an app that parents use to track their kids and how fast the car is going and if they are obeying speeding laws and whatnot. 

People don’t fully appreciate how much data is collected and how detailed a picture can be drawn about your life, and then it becomes, “Well, who is that data being shared with?” I mean, Jodi and I went to the airport, and within 30 minutes of getting to the airport, well, to get into the parking deck, they shoot a picture of our license plate. 

Then to go through TSA, they take a picture of us. So with somebody’s pictures and a license plate, you can gain a lot of detailed information about them and who is doing that? Who is it being shared with? People don’t think about these things and the part of the book, and what we’re trying to do, is get companies and business executives to really think carefully about what they’re doing with this data. 

Because to Jodi’s point, people are dying to have meaningful relationships in their personal life and with the things they care about, be it hiking or perfume or whatever your passion is, but with what technology companies have done, they’ve made it a commodity and they became the richest companies in the human history doing that, and what have they done as a consequence? Eroded trust, eroded that relationship that binds us all together. 

What’s Happening to My Data?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow, that’s such a powerful perspective. You are 100% right in the sense that the things that make us human as far as trust, love, bonds, you entrusting someone with even just a personal story, and now that is the mechanism to use or that is being used to, like you said, to market to us, to market us another cup of coffee

It’s like, “How about I just go get coffee when I feel like it? I don’t need 13 emails and banners, and I don’t even care that you know my birthday, I’ll pay my coffee on my birthday,” you know? It’s those things. You’re 100% right in that it’s infiltrated our genome, if you will. 

Like our human abilities to trust one another because now, it spreads, right? Now that I don’t really want to trust Instagram and all of these other companies but then what else don’t I trust? Does it creep into my friendship? Does it creep into my brotherhood? Does it creep into — you’re right, that makes it difficult. 

That starts in a way dividing our culture in very interesting ways. So tell me about all this data. When I save something to like my Google drive, you know it is going to the “cloud,” but I know damn well it ain’t going to no cloud, right? I know it is going somewhere. So tell me about where my data is, where are they keeping it, and why is this such an important thing as well? 

Jodi Daniels: Well, in terms of storage and that Google example, they have data centers all over the world. So it could be going there, different data centers often have a backup, so it is going there. It’s on your actual phone. If you think about a laptop, it is on your laptop. So every time you make a copy, it’s replicated throughout all of those different systems. 

Then if you think about it, let’s just go to your favorite e-commerce site, and you are going to buy something. You give them your name, your email, and they need all that information to tell you your item is shipping, here is your tracking number, and to send you stuff. They have to share it potentially with the shipping company.

So does the shipping company use it beyond just sending it to you, or maybe not? They also want you to buy more things. So they are going to send you all different kinds of emails. Some companies might share that with other partners that they think you might be interested in or sometimes they’ll keep that private, and they’ll just market the other partners to you. 

Every company is just different in terms of what they’re going to do. So what’s important is for people to just understand that every single piece of data that you give a company and when you go on their website, they might even be doing data collection on the website, what you’ve clicked on, how long did you hover over the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen. 

Did you click on these ten things before you finally made a purchase? All of that is getting analyzed. Did you click on something online and then get a flyer on the mail? They’re able to connect the dots between you, the anonymous browser online, to your home address and there are companies in the middle helping to facilitate all of that. 

I want people to understand that every interaction that they have has a data element being collected and that companies are using it. Sometimes they’re using it okay, sometimes they’re pushing the envelope a little bit, and the way that people can get educated as an individual is if you read privacy notices. 

You look at the overall company and try and gain that kind of trust score if you will, but the other is for anyone who is a business executive listening, think about your company. Think about how your customers are evaluating the practices of your company and is that — are you doing what you would want your customers to think about? Have you earned their trust from a data point of view? 

Justin Daniels: Also, if you are going to collect all that data, you may not realize, but you are creating a big liability for your company if you have a data breach. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s what’s crazy right now, right? You hear about these breaches, you hear about these big company sort of organizations that have some criminal goes in and gets all the data, and now, it’s just like, “Sorry,” they send you an email. It’s like, “Sorry, you [need to] change your password, our stuff got breached.” 

Then it’s like so out of your control. It seems so beyond you, and the biggest thing you can do is change your password or whatever it may be. It sounds like there will be some sort of transition to helping us all figure this stuff out, right? Make sure that we establish and implement things within our home, whether it be our businesses, things that kind of protect us in a lot of ways.

Where do you see that going? As far as like small business owners, business owners in general, like where do you see the laws going and where do you see this trend, I guess in a positive way, what’s going to be happening? What can we look forward to in the next few months, maybe even a few years for things that look out for us, the citizens, the people who do all of these things on a regular basis? 

Justin Daniels: So let’s break that question apart, and I will start with the laws part. So from a privacy perspective, unless and until Congress decides to pass a federal privacy law, which there is one being considered, but nothing is happening until the elections are done for congress, we’ll continue to see a proliferation of more state privacy laws. 

As Jodi eluded to, there are five, but every year more states put them on the docket for consideration for all the reasons that you just discussed because the breaches have become rampant. From a Federal perspective, we do not have an overarching cyber security law. We have what we like to call a sectoral approach. 

Financial, healthcare, but outside certain sectors that are critical infrastructure, we don’t have anything, and so I think what you are going to see is continued hacks. So I do a lot of work in the blockchain space, and it seems every week now there is a $100 million hack because one of the challenges you have is startup companies. 

Their goal is to create a minimum viable product and get customers get funded. Privacy and security are not built into those products by design. If you look back on it, it seems kind of crazy that Zoom didn’t have a password, but it didn’t when it was first coming up because they wanted to make it as easy as possible to use. 

So a lot of people felt, “Well, this privacy and security stuff, it kind of undermines the user experience,” and companies are all about efficiency and ease of use. So privacy and security became an afterthought until, of course, the inevitable breach, but the thing I want to point you towards, and we talk about this in the book, is when you get in your car nowadays, as you start it up, what do you now do without even thinking, thinking about it from a safety perspective? 

Buckle Up for Safety

Jodi Daniels: Put on your seatbelt. 

Justin Daniels: Put on your seatbelt. Now, when I grew up, my parents didn’t really wear seatbelts. Seatbelts didn’t even get introduced onto cars until the mid-60s, but nowadays, we put on a seatbelt and don’t even think about it, and the question is, “Well, why?” Well, one, we had Mothers Against Drunk Driving help educate people as to why it was important to wear your seatbelt. 

Two, almost every single state now has a law requiring you to wear your seatbelt. So the question that I have imposed to people all the time is, how do we make cyber security and privacy the digital seatbelt of the 21st century?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that so much. What a great analogy and hopeful too, because you’re right. When you’ve put on your seatbelt, there is this like almost elusive way to put on safety and protection. You’re right, you are not even thinking about it. What happens when that transfers over into our lives, into our tech lives? 

There is this thing that you’d put on or turn on or whatever it is and, in a way, helps you protect your X, Y, and Z. I love that approach. I hope that we keep moving in that direction, in that positive direction, because you’re right, you eluded this in the beginning, our entire lives are connected to these machines sitting in front of us. 

It is a beautiful thing, but it is also a thing that needs more of our attention when it comes to privacy and security. I love both of your approaches and how to think about all this stuff. You’ve made it very simple. I understand it so much more now, just in the last 30 minutes, and so writing a book is a huge feat. Congratulations to both of you. 

I know you’re heavily in this world of speaking and getting this word out about this work. It is very important work, so congratulations to you on writing this book. For all the business owners out there grinding away, what’s your message to them? What’s a takeaway? Maybe one each something that they can maybe go out and implement this week or something that they could think about this week?

Jodi Daniels: Mine is Justin’s favorite phrase, which is, “know your data”. A company or if anyone’s listening and you’re in either a division of a company, a department, or you own the company, ask yourself, “Do you know the data that is being collected for your function or overall in your department?” 

I don’t mean just, “Here’s all the big fancy systems.” I mean, really understand, “Oh, I download it to Dropbox. I download it to this CRM. I share it with this agency. We use this SaaS tool for surveys. We use this SaaS tool for something else.” Because a lot of times, people only focus on the big systems and all the little ones count too. So mine would be to know your data. 

Justin Daniels: I think a key takeaway I would say to the audience — and I just got done speaking at a private event on a ransomware — is if you are not using multifactor authentication for your business and your employees, that needs to change immediately. 

It is really not that hard to upgrade to the Microsoft license that allows you to enable it because in many of the ransom events that I have handled, the data breach once your network gets encrypted, usually the root cause is somebody was working from home remotely, getting access to the company server and didn’t have multifactor authentication and their password was breached by the hacker, and now, they got into the network, did their recon and encrypted the system, and use of multifactor could have stopped it in its tracks. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Very powerful. Thank you all for sharing today. I learned so, so much. Your experience is obviously very wide and very vivid. Jodi and Justin, I learned so much, thank you for sharing your stories. The book is called, Data Reimagined: Building Trust One Byte at a Time. So besides checking out the book, where can people find you? 

Jodi Daniels: We are both really active on LinkedIn and then I have a wealth of content plus our podcast plus our book at redcloveradvisors.com. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Love it, thank you for joining me today. I appreciate you two. 

Jodi Daniels: Thank you.

Justin Daniels: Thank you so much.