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How does our data get exposed and what can we do about it

February 27, 2024
min read
Hand holding phone with green shield and word "protected" on the screen

What is it?

Data brokerage, the dark web, breaches, PII... you've probably heard a lot of complex terms thrown around lately. But what does any of it actually mean?!

Let's break it down in simpler terms. What we really want to know is are we in danger and how do we protect ourselves?

  • Personal Identifiable Data (PII): This is simply the information that we use to identify ourselves. Examples include:
    - Full name
    - Email address
    - Phone number
    - Social security number
    - Driver's license number
    - Passport Number
    - Taxpayer identification number
    - Financial account or credit card info
  • Data Brokerage: These are businesses that collect and sell our personal identifiable data at scale.
  • The Dark Web: The dark web is a portion of the internet that is purposefully hidden and requires specialized software and authorization to enter. Given it's nature it has become a hotbed of criminal activities including the theft and sale of personal data
  • Data Breach: A data breach is when an organization that has access to my information succumbs to an attack by a malicious actor who gains access to the information.

Why should I care?

Now that we have a grasp on the terminology. Let's dig into the implications.

We know that with the expansion of our digital footprints, our data or personal identifiable information is everywhere. Many well intentioned organizations have our data as well as a requirement to serve us including healthcare companies, financial institutions, and more. Sometimes, these organizations succumb to data breaches.

Enter Data Brokers, they sweep the internet, gathering our personal information wherever they can find it and create profiles of us and our loved ones. They then sell these profiles to other business including marketers, advertisers, researchers, etc. The big problem though is once they've done the work of amassing the data, it makes it much easier for malicious actors including hackers, scammers, and identity thieves to steal that data and use it to hurt people and steal their money.

Once a malicious actor get's their hands on our personal data, it makes it's way to the dark web where it can be sold to other malicious actors who will then use it to target us further.

Armed with your personal data, nefarious actors can engage in identity theft, financial fraud, scam targeting, and even impersonation. Your compromised information may be utilized to gain unauthorized access to accounts, make fraudulent transactions, or create a false digital persona in your name.

What can I do about it?

Thankfully there are ways to proactively protect your data and money from these kinds of threats.

Protecting Your Digital Fortress
  1. Anti-Data Brokerage Measures: Be mindful of what you share online. Limit the personal information you disclose on social media, and regularly review and adjust privacy settings. Additionally, consider using anti-data brokerage tools to search and remove your information from data brokerage websites.
  2. Dark Web Scanning Tools: Stay proactive with dark web scanning tools that continuously monitor the dark web for traces of your personal data. These tools alert you if your information is found, allowing you to take swift action and fortify your defenses.
  3. Password Hygiene: Strengthen your passwords by using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Employ unique passwords for different accounts, and consider using a reputable password manager to enhance security.
  4. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a secondary verification step, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access even if your credentials are compromised.
  5. Regular Check-ups: Monitor your financial statements, credit reports, and online accounts regularly for any suspicious activities. Act promptly if you notice anything unusual.

Navigating Confidently

As the digital landscape evolves, so do the threats that lurk within. Kudos to you! Understanding the basics of PII, data brokers, and the dark web is the first step in fortifying your digital fortress. With anti-data brokerage measures and dark web scanning tools, you can take control of your online presence, ensuring a safer and more secure digital experience.

Reach out to us with any and all inquiries on how to stay safe in an increasingly scary digital world.

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