Thursday, December 09, 2004

Databases Defined

Q: What are all the databases associated with the contents of your wallet? (i.e. your credit cards, library card, driver's license, frequent flyer card, etc.) How secure is the information therein? How much of the information is the same but managed by different companies?

: What are all the databases associated with the contents of your wallet?

Well I must say this is a very vague question. It is impossible to know what “ALL” the databases are. The only thing one can do is conceptualize the question. To be specific there is no way to know what exactly the database(s) that are being used by a company. Any particular company could be using DB2, Oracle, SQL, Access, Text file, MySQL or a proprietary database.

A database is a software application that contains certain types of data. That data is contained inside tables. The review or output of that data is formed by queries. Because the output comes from a query it could come from multiple tables with the database called a schema. With XML it could come from multiple different companies at the same time. The output presentation of the data is a farce designed by the developer(s). Because the data could be coming from different sources at the same time from completely different databases systems and different companies the output of the data is a user concept of what they are looking at and not really an actual singular point in space and time.

Here are real examples of database applications: Oracle or SQL

The term database is often misused. For example my contact database should be said to be my contact data set. The database is an application. The information within the database organized into tables is called a “data set”.

To conceptualize the question in proper terms as data sets not database(s):
  • Credit Cards: these are commerce data sets.
  • Library cards: these are personal and inventory data sets.
  • Drivers Licenses: these are legal, personal and certification data sets.
  • Frequent Flyer Cards: these are personal and commerce data sets.

: How secure is the information therein?

This too is vague. We do not work for the companies; therefore we can only hope the data is secure as it supposed to be limited to the individual user that holds the correct user name and password. When using these systems across the internet an SSL certificate is used to encrypt the data via your browser at a minimum of 128bits. You can tell by looking in your status bar of your browser for the lock icon.

Here is a link on the basics of SSL. We use it everyday and most people don’t even know they are using it. Verisign

: How much of the information is the same but managed by different companies?

This is yet another vague question that can not be answered with accuracy. The truth of the matter is we really do not know, unless you are the system administrator or system designer. As the admin/developer I can make the appearance of data be whatever I want. The output presentation is smoke and mirrors to make huge dataset understandable to the user. The data sets listed, I would hope that none of these systems shared the same information connections. All these systems contain similar data sets such as contact, address and certain personal information.

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