Are survey tools private and secure?

Blocksurvey blog author
Written by Wilson Bright
Sep 5, 2021 · 2 min read

Survey Platforms' Data Breach, Data Leak, and Data Mining History

In an unfortunate and bizarre event involving online surveys, about 6 million accounts have been hacked from CashCrate – a site that allows people to take online surveys and get paid in return. This breach allowed hackers to enter accounts built-in 2006. Included hacked data—email addresses, passwords, physical addresses, and user names.

In 2018-June 27, the Spanish online survey firm's day – Typeform realized a security breach that forced the organization to lose private survey data to tens of thousands of its customers using its website. Hackers have obtained access to everything from contact data to email addresses and other sensitive information that has put many survey participants at risk. In fact, Reddit sustained significant harm when the personal data of its large-scale user survey were revealed.

All of the above data breach incidents point out to two important things –

  • Data breaches have been consistent and seem unstoppable.
  • There is a steady decrease in the public's confidence and trust in surveys, polls, or information sharing online.

Scary, isn't that?

And it's still very unjust. And all the valuable, sensitive data tossed out to everyone and everyone to be exploited and misused.

A survey conducted by the famous Harris Poll (2017) stated that "Privacy" is the #1 priority for Americans, with 82% choosing technologies that protect their privacy. This begs the question, are the new survey tools secure enough? Unfortunately, they're not.

What is the problem with Surveys today?

Today, if you are using a survey tool, the account, also known as your digital identity for the platform in use, is centralized. And all the data you collect is associated with that account that is not encrypted end to end - in simple words, the account and your data are not truly owned by you - the platform provider owns both the account and the data you produce. Due to this centralization, data leaks, breaches, censorship, trust issues are continuing to happen. If the platform provider wants to censor you, they can do it. If they want to delete your data, they can do it. If they want to access your data, yes, they have access to it. This is the drawback of any centralized tech today. The platform provider has complete control over you in the digital space. This is no different in the survey tools space. Typeform data breach in 2018 and data mining issues reported on SurveyMonkey in Australia are a few examples. Anonymous surveys are not really anonymous. You are not anonymous to the platform, and your respondents' data isn't either. There is no ownership, no privacy, no security, no end-to-end encryption.

marlon brando privacy quote

BlockSurvey - Private & Secure Forms & Surveys

As a result of ongoing studies and experiments, we have found several issues with the existing survey tools. So what have we done? We have chosen to solve these problems with our special survey approach. Using the Stacks Blockchain, we came up with a solution for implementing private, secure, encrypted, and anonymous surveys. If you would like to know more in detail. You can check how BlockSurvey works  for the architecture. Lets dive deeper to how BlockSurvey solves this. Read more.

So what is BlockSurvey?

BlockSurvey is a secure survey tool. It offers the highest level of security for people looking to protect their data collection using surveys. End-to-end encryption provides you the confidence to collect data from your clients and target audience by establishing trust. To facilitate security, BlockSurvey uses the Stacks blockchain. BlockSurvey is the first web 3.0 platform which is focused on decentralization. Below is a representation of generation which BlockSurvey is part of.

web3 surveys

How does BlockSurvey solve this using Blockchain

For accounts, BlockSurvey uses decentralized identity (DID). In layman's terms, think of this as a digital account which is coming from a public blockchain. Unlike what we use today, be it a centralized email provider or social identity provider like Google, FB, Twitter for accounts. Your identity is coming from the Stacks Blockchain, which is a public blockchain. Your identity is anchored on a ledger which you truly own. Not anyone, not the platform provider, not even the blockchain provider. You truly own your identity/account. This is why it is called a decentralized identity. This prevents anyone from censoring you or profiling you. You are anonymous.

For data storage, BlockSurvey uses a decentralized/private storage called Gaia, which is accessible only to you. Not anyone, not even BlockSurvey. Think of this like storing on your remote hard disk, which is accessible only by you, but on the cloud. All your data is encrypted end to end using your account. Meaning only you can unlock your data and not anyone, not even BlockSurvey. All your respondents' data is known only to you. This makes your work anonymous to the platform provider. Think about collecting sensitive data on surveys like Mental health, Sexual health, Activism, Employee Feedback, and many more. You have privacy and security that help you to get authentic responses.

This is how blockchain helps BlockSurvey resolve censorship, privacy, security, and ownership issues.

BlockSurvey uses Stacks blockchain for all this work. Think of Stacks as a development tool kit which helps you to build on Bitcoin. Many today believe Bitcoin is just currency. But it is actually a trust protocol on top of the Internet which allows you to build any user owned internet applications. Stacks blockchain helps you to build applications on top of Bitcoin at scale.

Benefits of using BlockSurvey

  • Data Privacy and Data Ownership
  • No Ads, No Trackers
  • No Data Mining or Harvesting
  • Uncompromising Security - End-to-end Encrypted

What are the key areas in which BlockSurvey is trying to help?

BlockSurvey helps individuals and organizations with running sensitive surveys. Our customers are primarily from mental health, men's and women's wellness, religious institutions, financial institutes, crypto blockchain startups, and human resources professionals. BlockSurvey is positioned in the privacy market segment. Just like Signal, Telegram, but we are here for surveys. BlockSurvey guarantees end–to–end encryption to your responses, that only you can access. Your data is yours, you own it.

We believe security and privacy in forms and surveys are critical. Having a privacy-focused approach to surveying could lead to making better decisions, thereby benefiting all the players involved in the process.