In 2011, Time magazine reported research that predicted we would be consuming 966 exabytes of data online in 2015. To put that in perspective, that's roughly 100 billion gigabytes, or 6.25 billion of the lowest storage iPhone 6. A study from Shareaholic said that in 2013, over 20 percent of internet traffic came from Facebook and Pinterest alone. Our private lives are far less so than ever, and the dangers we face come from criminals, opportunists, and even our fellow man. These tech gurus are focusing on protecting everything they can in our digital lives.
Erin, who heads up security firm Urbane Security, has worked in information security for nearly two decades, including time at UCB and as an adviser to (ISC)2. Under her Twitter handle, @SECBarbie, she has promoted safe security and even gone so far as to create a helpline at the DEF CON hacking conference to protect anyone seeing anything inappropriate or unsafe.
Gorodyansky, an Inc. 30 Under 30 winner in 2011, founded AnchorFree, the company behind Hotspot Shield, an app for almost every digital device that anonymizes and protects your connection from hackers and online snoopers. The company's mission has expanded to even protect countries being censored, such as Turkish users who are currently receiving unlimited free access to social networks blocked by the government. This situation is a repeat of several instances across the world, including in Egypt, Iran, and Hong Kong.
The founder of hugely popular social network Reddit, Ohanian has also crusaded to protect internet users from potential censorship, including fighting against the Stop Online Privacy Act, which would threaten users' ability to post even fan-made tributes. He even went as far as to go on The Colbert Report to campaign for online democracy, against the comedic and faux-conservative jabs of the new Late Show host. Ohanian's book, Without Their Permission, tells his own story as well as the story of his fight against the government's various attempts to stymie privacy and online freedom.
Brianna Wu, the head of development at video game company Giant Spacekat, has started a crusade, partially as a result of her own experiences, against online harassment of women and glass ceilings in the games industry. Despite multiple assault and death threats against her from various anonymous sources, Wu has never stopped, and has created a Legal Defense Fund for women targeted by online harassment.
Security and hacking expert Appelbaum is one of the core members of The Onion Router (or TOR for short), an internet browser that anonymizes your traffic through over 7,000 relays to protect your privacy. The Tor Project was founded specifically to hide traffic on the Web, and though there are more nefarious uses of the platform, Tor's transparency with many key metrics of the service has helped it become very popular with the security-conscious. Even after being detained several times at airports and a Department of Justice seizure of his electronics, Appelbaum has never stopped.
Paterson created a search engine that spans both the open and "deep" (i.e., accessible via TOR) Web. This stops both the black market dealings behind the wall of TOR's anonymous shield and the devices leaking data through services like Shodan (which has been dubbed "the most dangerous search engine"). A team of analysts with the service notify clients of direct threats, as well as potential dangerous events and cyber-terrorist groups. Paterson's work was even lauded by London mayor Boris Johnson last year when his project announced new funding.
Snowden is most famous for his historic 2013 leak of NSA files revealing the agency's PRISM program that extracts information about almost everyone in the world from huge internet companies. Since then, Snowden has become a crusader for privacy and security in general. His TED Talk, "How We Take Back the Internet," is part of his larger goal to change how internet users approach their time online and what programs they use.
Native Irishman Phelan created Trustev, a company that uses over 20 different pieces of digital data to determine whether a transaction is real or fake. As well as being named the European Union's Startup of the Year, Trustev also regularly does research in the security and transaction space to fight against fear about it, such as concerns over supposed "Apple Pay Fraud."
Gartner reports that Google owned 50 percent of the cloud-based productivity industry in 2012. As a result, Google recruited Eran Feigenbaum (who also goes by Eran Raven), formerly the chief information security officer of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as the director of security for Google Apps. He quietly is the backbone of one of the most powerful weakpoints in our lives, with Gmail alone having over 425 million users.
Harper founded the Online Abusive Prevention Initiative, a nonprofit built specifically to end online harassment. A talented engineer, Harper also created a controversial plug-in for Twitter that automatically blocks accounts related to online harassment, using a combination of tactics including monitoring harassers' follow (and following) lists. Harper has also been an active contributor to the FreeBSD project.