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The future of data storage: Exploring the digital vault

From business to technology: Insights into the future of insurance – Chapter 4

We all have treasured possessions that we want to keep safe from harm. Expensive jewelry, personal records, or an heirloom. We often find a safe spot in our homes to store these items, like a vault. Many forget that your digital live also has treasured possessions: data. What do companies store and know about you? Do we trust them? To create a safer space, the EU is looking into laws to put the user back in control. The concept of a “digital vault” is a way to make these laws reality.

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Kevin Pennekamp – Meet Our Team

Principal Software Engineer / Team Lead

What is a digital vault?

A digital vault is very similar to a password manager service. It is similar to a physical vault. You need a key or code to open a physical vault. In the digital World, this is called encryption. Your data is made unrecognisable. Nobody is able to understand what the data is showing, unless you have the key.

In its most basic form, is as shown in the visualization above. You as a user log into an application. The moment you do so, your encrypted vault is retrieved from a cloud server. The moment the encrypted vault is received it gets decrypted. Maybe you make some small changes to your data. Once you are finished, all the data is encrypted again in the vault. This newly encrypted vault is sent back to the cloud and is stored.

This simplified flow shows that data in its original readable form is only accessible for you. Anybody else that would get access to your vault would only see unrecognizable encrypted data.

How to share data?

If you only have an encrypted vault you can access, your digital vault would not be different from a password manager. But the goal of the digital vault is to put you in charge of your data, and give you control on who can access what data. Whenever a company wants to have insights into your data, they have to go to you. Maybe you want them to only have access to a small bit of information. This is for you to decide. Each company is given an encrypted copy of a subset of your vault, that only they can access. This setup gives you some great benefits:


  • You control all your copies and what is in a copy
  • You can revoke access and delete copies to limit data exposure
  • You can see when and how many times your copies have been accessed

How to keep your data up to date?

Of course, you need the ability to keep your data up-to-date. There are two different ways how this can happen in a digital vault. First of all, as the owner you can just update your data yourself. Once you made the update, the new version of your vault gets encrypted and send back to the central cloud storage.


But maybe you do not want “Company 2” to know your latest financial status, or your changed email address. As you own the data, you have the power to determine which of your “copies” receive the latest update. This gives you the power to keep “Company 2” in the dark of the latest changes.

In some cases, one of the allowed companies have new or updated information that they want to share with you. As you own the data, they cannot just update your data, or their copy of your data. They send you an “update request” with the new or changed information. These requests are stored in queue, waiting for you to review them. You and you alone can now determine what updates are applied in your vault. And again, you can choose who will receive these updates as well.

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Wrapping up

Our digital lives are becoming more important. Not only for ourselves, but also for governments and companies. Upcoming laws are here to protect us from harm in the complex digital world. A digital vault allows you to be compliant with the law, and put you back in charge of your data.

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s happening in the insurance industry and how technology is shaping its future, check out our blog series on navigating the digital transformation of the Insurance industry by clicking on the button below!

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