Robert Herjavec, a cybersecurity expert and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” told CNBC on Tuesday that people need to wake up when it comes to protecting their data.
“I don’t think people take information as critically as they should today. It is the modern-day weapon,” Herjavec said in an interview with “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “We are living in a cold war right now and we’re under attack. We’re under attack every single day.”
The investor’s comments came in response to a scandal involving Facebook in which a firm creating ads for then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign reportedly mined data from 50 million Facebook users.
Herjavec, whose company, the Herjavec Group, is one of the top privately-held cybersecurity companies in the world, questioned whether the issue could really be considered a “breach.”
“Is it really a data breach when the consumer has given permission for the data?” he asked on Tuesday. “The problem in the case of Facebook is I don’t know what you’re doing with my data. I may have given you permission to tell me which fridge to buy, but I probably didn’t give you permission to sell it to the Russians or to somebody else who’s trolling that data.”
Facebook’s chieftains have come under fire for their response — or lack thereof — to news of the issue involving research firm Cambridge Analytica.
But Herjavec argued that the responsibility to curb issues like these shouldn’t necessarily fall to corporate executives.
“I hate to say it, [but] it’s the government,” Herjavec said. “I hate to say it. The internet is all about free use, but the government has to come in and put some regulation around this because the large corporations fundamentally aren’t going to care. Facebook and companies like that are becoming utility. There’s got to be some regulation around that.”
The “Shark Tank” investor pointed to the U.K. as a good example of a country using regulation to stem the unauthorized spread of consumer data.
“The U.K. is a leader in protection, but the key is you have to have teeth with the regulation,” he told Cramer. “GDPR is a 6 percent penalty to your global sales if consumer data is taken. Now, do you think that Facebook would have taken privacy more seriously if they have a 6 percent penalty?”
So as governments race to protect their consumers from being taken advantage of online, Herjavec had some advice for individuals running into problems with cryptocurrencies.
But when it comes to ransomware, or a type of cyberattack in which your data is held hostage until a ransom is paid, Herjavec had a simple rule: don’t trust hackers.
“Look what happened with Facebook. Facebook assumed that the people they sold the data to legitimately have destroyed it and they didn’t. So would you trust a criminal who says, ‘I’ve destroyed your data?’ The answer is no, of course not,” the cybersecurity chief said. “You shouldn’t pay ransomware. But a lot of people are.”