128. David Hirko - AI observability and data as a cybersecurity weakness

128. David Hirko - AI observability and data as a cybersecurity weakness

The TDS team

About this episode

Imagine you’re a big hedge fund, and you want to go out and buy yourself some data. Data is really valuable for you — it’s literally going to shape your investment decisions and determine your outcomes.

But the moment you receive your data, a cold chill runs down your spine: how do you know your data supplier gave you the data they said they would? From your perspective, you’re staring down 100,000 rows in a spreadsheet, with no way to tell if half of them were made up — or maybe more for that matter.

This might seem like an obvious problem in hindsight, but it’s one most of us haven’t even thought of. We tend to assume that data is data, and that 100,000 rows in a spreadsheet is 100,000 legitimate samples.

The challenge of making sure you’re dealing with high-quality data, or at least that you have the data you think you do, is called data observability, and it’s surprisingly difficult to solve for at scale. In fact, there are now entire companies that specialize in exactly that — one of which is Zectonal, whose co-founder Dave Hirko will be joining us for today’s episode of the podcast.

Dave has spent his career understanding how to evaluate and monitor data at massive scale. He did that first at AWS in the early days of cloud computing, and now through Zectonal, where he’s working on strategies that allow companies to detect issues with their data — whether they’re caused by intentional data poisoning, or unintentional data quality problems. Dave joined me to talk about data observability, data as a new vector for cyberattacks, and the future of enterprise data management on this episode of the TDS podcast.


Intro music:

- Artist: Ron Gelinas

- Track Title: Daybreak Chill Blend (original mix)

- Link to Track: https://youtu.be/d8Y2sKIgFWc


    0:00 Intro
    3:00 What is data observability?
    10:45 “Funny business” with data providers
    12:50 Data supply chains
    16:50 Various cybersecurity implications
    20:30 Deep data inspection
    27:20 Observed direction of change
    34:00 Steps the average person can take
    41:15 Challenges with GDPR transitions
    48:45 Wrap-up