3 min read

Your Identity is Being Traded on The Internet Every 2.5 Minutes

Radu CRAHMALIUC

May 20, 2022

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
Your Identity is Being Traded on The Internet Every 2.5 Minutes

You're flooded by ads every time you visit a website: small banners, big rollovers, annoying pop-up ads, colorful ads, video ads, you name it.

But to be effective, those ads must address your needs and wants. Let’s say you’re a 42-year-old man from Chicago with a passion for cars and extreme sports. You’re likely interested in different things than a 23-year-old woman from Germany, who’s into makeup and travel. But how can they tell who’s who?

The Internet knows who you are

Here’s where the shady business starts. Websites, internet providers, and data harvesting companies, called Data Brokers, all record user online behavior, combine multiple sources, and build virtual profiles of you.  They then sell the profile to advertisers who use it to bombard you with messages across websites, platforms and devices. Of course, the more detailed the profile, the more valuable it is to advertisers. But if you think that’s creepy, you don’t know the half of it.

You’re being auctioned right now

According to data shared by an ONG called the Irish Council on Civil Liberties (ICCL), your digital identity is real-time bid on by advertisers whenever you land on a website that serves ads.

If you’re American, this happens up to 747 times a day, and if you’re an EU citizen, 376 times a day.

Most likely, the lower European numbers are caused by the tougher privacy conditions enforced by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Nevertheless, in rough numbers, that means that, if you live in the US or the EU, your personal information is auctioned off and sold every few minutes, which should really get you thinking.

Your identity brings in a lot of cash

Just from the two markets alone, the Real-Time-Bidding (RTC) Industry has managed to score more than $117 billion last year, the ICCL report said.

The real numbers, however, could be much more significant: the study doesn’t cover other parts of the world and it includes the ad networks of Google and Microsoft but misses giants like Amazon and Facebook.

What can you do to prevent this from happening?

The volume of information you create by using the Internet is huge and it can all usually be traced back to you. In time, the information builds up into a comprehensive personal archive about you. This is your digital footprint, and managing it can be extremely time-consuming. Think about all the newsletters you registered for but then forgot. Think of old accounts on websites that may no longer exist. Especially when you have to deal with Data Brokers, taking back your personal data, or wiping it entirely, can be extremely tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things you could do to improve your privacy:

  • Don’t give more personal information than needed, especially on social media. Even if a website doesn’t sell your data, it can still fall victim to a data breach and your data can be exposed.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the Internet. A VPN encrypts data transfers and hides your real identity online
  • Constantly update your devices, and install a security solution to protect them from malware
  • Use a browser that has a private or incognito mode, and periodically delete browser cookies and cash
  • Consider using Digital Identity Protection (DIP). DIP is an easy and convenient way of managing your Digital Footprint. It automatically searches for leaked personal data online, including on the Dark Web, and promptly alerts you if any of your private information has been exposed. It can also help you find and delete old accounts and assists you in contacting Data Brokers in order to legally delete their records of you.

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

January 26, 2023

2 min read
Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

January 19, 2023

4 min read
Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

November 29, 2022

2 min read
How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

November 22, 2022

3 min read
Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

November 16, 2022

6 min read
Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

November 14, 2022

5 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

Meta Pays Out Bounties for Account Takeover and Two-Factor Authentication Bypass Exploits Meta Pays Out Bounties for Account Takeover and Two-Factor Authentication Bypass Exploits
Silviu STAHIE

January 31, 2023

1 min read
Hackers steal 10 million customer details from JD Sports Hackers steal 10 million customer details from JD Sports
Graham CLULEY

January 30, 2023

2 min read
North Korean Hackers Tried to Launder $100 Million in Crypto Stolen in 2022 North Korean Hackers Tried to Launder $100 Million in Crypto Stolen in 2022
Silviu STAHIE

January 25, 2023

1 min read