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You may also be wondering…
- 1 Legal marketplaces
- 2 Illegal marketplaces
- 3 Sign-up services
Third-party data brokers and advertisers can collect your personal information without you knowing or agreeing to it. There is an enormous legal market for this, though it’s quite controversial.2 Illegal marketplaces
These are online marketplaces, many of which are on the dark web, where hackers sell your personal info that they’ve stolen, including credit card numbers. This can lead to identity theft.3 Sign-up services
Facebook and Google are free services that rely on your data to function. They make rampant use of this data, storing it and combining it to form a portrait of you based on your use of their services.
Data breaches occur when sensitive data is exposed. Your digital information is stored around the world in hundreds of databases. Most companies have security measures in place to prevent hacking attempts, and data-leakage disasters. The danger is that your leaked data could end up being sold on the dark web.
Data brokers are companies that sell personal data using sophisticated methods to track you around the web. They combine the info they collect with profiles of you that they’ve purchased from other companies. This includes financial, health, and personal details like your address and information about your online activities. This is an invasive practice, but it’s extremely common, and makes up a multi-billion dollar industry.
The dark web is a part of the internet that can only be accessed with an anonymizing network like the Tor browser. Though it has a bad reputation, the dark web is simply a more private part of the internet. However, the extreme privacy the dark web affords does make it easier for illicit activity to occur, since hackers can buy and sell personal information that may have come from a data breach. This leads to credit card theft, among other bad things. To be clear, the legal data brokers mentioned above don’t operate on the dark web.
Removing personal data from the internet is complicated to say the least. While it would be incredibly hard to even figure out which data brokers have your info, you would then have to send requests to each broker asking that they remove your info from their database. While legally they do have to comply, this also takes time. Even well-known services like Google and Facebook, which claim to make privacy an option, don’t make it straightforward or easy. And, in the worst case, if your info is being sold on the dark web, it is almost impossible to get it back. Good security is thus imperative.
Password managers are the best way to create strong passwords. They create a random group of characters that would be very hard to remember and automatically fill in your login information for you when you need it. If you want to make your own strong password, it’s best to use a group of words – almost a sentence– and perhaps throw some numbers in there for good measure, like, “hereismymagnificentspasswordthatimadein2020.”
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