It is unlikely there are many people left who have not heard of Pokémon Go. Maybe you are an active player, maybe your stock portfolio includes Nintendo shares, or maybe you have heard the warnings about criminal activity related to the game. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is a mobile app that uses a phone’s GPS and camera to create an augmented reality experience in which players traverse the physical world and capture animated creatures.
Niantic, Inc.—which actually began as a Google project before splitting off from the company last year—partnered with Nintendo to create the mobile app. Whether you are playing the game or not, one thing is for sure – this is a truly disruptive technology; one that came on the scene and infiltrated people’s lives in record time.
Just how pervasive is Pokémon Go? The app has drawn just under 21 million active daily users in the United States since its 7 July debut. In Germany the game was released on 13 July and rose to the top of the charts in just three hours. In less than two weeks Pokémon Go has attracted more daily active users than Twitter – an app that has been in existence for ten years.
From a practitioner perspective, concerns arise around such rapid and widespread adoption of an emerging technology. Organizations are often unable to accommodate such unprecedented interest—in this case, server issues plagued the game’s developers, particularly in the first few days of its release, when Niantic seemed unprepared for the rapid onslaught of users. High levels of usage may also increase exposure for security flaws, which may be exploited before an organization has an opportunity to correct them.
In the case of Pokémon Go, the software company has also come under fire for privacy concerns related to the game – while an update has since been released that corrects the error, an earlier version of the app granted full Google account access to Niantic when users chose that method of sign-in. When millions of users downloaded the app before the update was released, it is unlikely many of them were reading the fine print to understand the scope of access to their personal information they had handed over.
As technology professionals, we have an opportunity and an obligation to anticipate and prepare for what is next, even when we might not be quite sure what it is. While we may not all be developing the next viral app, we do all serve as advisors on technology in some capacity within our organizations. Technology is evolving at exponentially faster and faster rates, and it can seem daunting to keep pace. But even as advances are made, the old standards ring true – build privacy and security standards into technology from the beginning, optimize risk, and approach future technologies with a healthy sense of cautious optimism.
Betsie Estes, Research Resource Manager, ISACA
[ISACA Now Blog]