Digital Assets – A broader approach for our online assets

As the online part of our life is growing at a blazing pace, so are our Digital Assets. What are digital assets? In the past the term Digital Asset referred to digital content such as multimedia text, images, audio and video. Those assets have direct commercial value to the “old” content industry, e.g. the music and broadcast industries. As a result, issues of how to manage and protect them are among the hottest topics within the IT world. Related issues of Digital Rights Management (DRM) were extensively addressed. However, it turns out that from the user perspective – i.e. our personal perspective – that there are many more digital assets. Some have real monetary value, such as a PayPal account for example, while others have sentimental value, e.g. our private photo collection. Hence, a broader approach to digital assets is needed.

The following is an inventory of our digital assets:

Purchased content – Content that we purchased online, either for real money or for free. This content is closely related to the original definition of digital assets as multimedia content.

  • Music, movies, video, photos, eBooks – iTunes, Amazon, iStockphoto, Netflix
  • eMagazines and TV streaming
  • Domains – GoDaddy, Network Solutions.
    Note: Domain is a new asset type, quite similar to trade marks.

Free content – content that we generated (user generated) and which is publicly available for free, but has IP (intellectual properties) rights.

  • Blogs – WordPress
  • Video – YouTube, Vimeo

IP content – content that we generated and which is publicly available for sale.

  • Photos, video–iStockphoto, brightcove
  • Anything – eBay

Personal content – our personal content, part of it shared and part completely private. Most of the value is sentimental and only has value to ourselves, our friends and our family.

  • Multimedia (Photo, Video) – Picasa, Flickr, Shutterfly
  • On-line storage & backup – Dropbox, Carbonite, Box.net, Google Docs
  • email/web-mail
  • Social networks accounts – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace
    Interesting to note that the network of connections (or followers) is a new type of asset that social networks has created.

Online money – real or virtual money (or equivalent assets), purchased or earned. The account balance is equivalent to real money.

  • Online entertainment, for example online gaming accounts
  • E-commerce accounts (seller or buyer) – eBay, PayPal, Yahoo! Stores
  • Loyalty programs – Frequent flyer, retail points/coupons

Financial online service – we have focused on financial services here, but this endless category is applicable for many other services. Some of the services are passive in the sense that they only provide information which basically substitutes the paper report. Other services are active – the user takes action, for example, trading in the stock market.

  • Financial: Bank, credit card, Loan, Investment, social security, FX (foreign exchange)
  • Semi-financial: Bill payment, tax returns, electronic statements, softcopy receipts
  • Legal and other: Trust document, will, life insurance, real estate, retirement documents, health information

Computer and network setup – the information about the computer and network setup, for example computer logins and passwords, is critical to the daily operation. Since our computing devices store valuable information (some of which is reused as mentioned above) the key information turns to be an asset and should be treated accordingly.

We realize that the magnitude and diversify of our digital assets are growing dramatically. We should be aware of it and take the right measurements to protect them, as we do for other assets.

The Unbearable Lightness of Online Murder !

It is well-known that Internet identities are unreliable.  Anyone can conjure up a false identity or even worse –  steal a real identity of someone else.
How about killing a real person in the cyberspace? Well, not that hard, really. Here is how I got into this crazy idea: my dear ex-boss T., passed away on Aug. 1st, 2009. Until recently, his LinkedIn profile was still active – “alive and kicking”. I thought that it was so embarrassing :  people  offering him jobs or inviting him to connect, unaware of his demise. I decided to take action and close the lid on him: used LinkedIn “Verification of Death Form” to ask the network to close his account. I quoted a Yahoo condolence post, and declared that I provided them with an accurate information. LinkedIn team was quick to respond and the following day the account was gone.  Quite easy, isn’t it ?
This real story was motivated by good intention. However,  if someone wants to get quits, even in a petty way of eliminating someone else’s identity from a social network, are there enough security measures to protect the “victim”?