Every now and then we read news about someone who had their identity stolen or about data breaches where the individual’s records are then leaked and made available to the public or are sold to people who then again, use someone else’s identity in order to commit crimes that do not lead back to the person at fault. Should you also worry about all of the websites that track and record your every move?
Websites that collect your navigation data should not worry you too much
Thinking logically about it, even though websites like Facebook and its associates who collect your browsing history and what other sites you visit, they do so just to give you relevant advertisements. Whether you like it or not, you’ll always see advertisements, they are the only way visiting websites can stay free of charge, which is how they make the income necessary to maintain their websites. Targeted ads are ads based on your interests, thus there is a higher chance of you purchasing a product or a service if it is something you might actually need or just something important to you.
How sites can provide these ads that are related to your browsing habits is based on the information they collect, information which they all put together as an electronic profile associated with you, a profile that is accessible from one site to the other.
Some sites do not use targeted ads
They do not have access to that kind of data, and at most they would know what you did before on their website but not on other sites. Facebook and other large social media sites share the electronic profile mentioned beforehand with Google, Apple, and Microsoft without consent. There might be other sites associated with it, like Amazon and Ebay, but the idea here is that they all share what data they collect about you and more data means more accurate suggestions.
Should that concern you? Not really.
A logical concern is whether these sites, which have top security, lose this data. But this is not really a concern. Whoever steals it will not be able to do much with it, as it is just trivial data that is collected.
But “data broker” websites are a concern
At little to no cost, anyone can find important information about you, such as address, phone number and even criminal records, if you have any. These data broker sites collect information about you from personal public records that can be found on official websites, like real estate and governmental sites, court, police, medical, where anyone can snoop and look around if they know where to look for what they are seeking to find.
A lot of things are associated with your email so a first step would be deleting your email account and making a fresh one. If you have a lot of spam emails you should definitely consider a fresh start. Whether you signed up in the past with your email on a shady website that was offering you something for free, which you probably never received, or it was a survey, or simply someone who sold their contact list, or had it hacked, your email is out there, and it is considered a product.
Once your information is considered a product this can lead to identity theft
It is on a list that gets sold and bought more than one time, the more spam you get the more it was shared. If you can live with spam then that’s not necessarily a reason to start fresh, but if you have public records associated with your email, you are better off erasing everything and creating a new, clean email that you should share only with trusted entities.
Another idea for a fresh start would be having multiple separate emails, one for the social media (if you use any) and at minimum another one just for governmental and legal purposes, one that should not be shared to any other digital entity other than official ones.
This way, if your social media email ends up on another list, you do not have to delete it and start fresh again because it would not be associated with official documents and thus, whoever knows your social media email, if somehow gets on the data broker websites, it only contains trivialities.
Furthermore, to limit this kind of data access, do not use your full name on social media and your address, place of work, date of birth, or other traceable information. Useless information sharing is not lucrative anyway to malicious data brokers.
It is not difficult to remove at least most of your pertinent info from the Internet
Just as easy as it is for websites to collect your data, for your data to be stolen and sold, there is an easy way of reverting the process and making your internet navigation safer. Nowadays, we simply cannot live without the internet and not just because we feel the need to connect with other people through social media or other messaging methods, but because we do our shopping and online banking on the internet as well. If you are worried about being hacked a VPN or a “virtual private network” will give you more piece of mind about cyber-attacks.
If you are at home and you have an encrypted network that only you have access to, then you should not worry too much about stolen information, but if you are using a public network for performing your banking tasks or other chores like that you might need to consider a VPN. Without a VPN, whoever is connected to a public network can monitor everything you are doing without even the need of fancy machinery, but just a simple phone with the right sniffing or data capture app.
While these “sniffing” apps exist for testing purposes, they also can be used maliciously.
But what about the information that has already been leaked about you? The accounts and public records mentioned beforehand? The simplest and fastest solution to remove public records from the internet is using a platform designed for that, a platform that reverses the process of the broker data sites.
Onerep has just the solution to this problem with search and scrubbing features to effectively remove most of your personal information from online websites. Keeping your information secure and removing it when found is the best process in preventing identity theft.