Understanding the value of personal data


The greatest inventions of humankind come to fruition thanks to the exchange of ideas. One mind rarely comes up with revolutionary solutions in complete isolation. Socializing and transmitting valuable information helps everyone chip in to make the world a better place.

In the past, the means of sharing accumulated data were very primitive and often destroyed. The ancient times had great thinkers that contributed with revolutionary ideas that still impact our outlook on the world today. Dark ages have crushed the opportunities for common folk to pursue education and limited these privileges for higher classes. With gatekeeping, preservation of superiority pushes away the necessity for progress.

Fast forward to today, we can observe unfathomable improvements in information technologies – systems that connect people all around the world and allow for rapid exchange of ideas. Just as intel is essential for successful warfare, information is the necessary resource that stimulates a competitive business environment.

The relentless pursuit of information reminds me of the gold rush. From small up-and-coming businesses to large social media networks, companies use both advanced and sometimes immoral ways to extract valuable data.

The Internet is full of free, publicly available information, so why would anyone go out of their way to collect more data? The key is digging into continuous, personalized information coming from real users. Companies can use this data for the development of further products, adjust the algorithm to increase your usage time, sell information to advertisers.

Recently, I found a data set of scraped LinkedIn profiles extracted with web scrapers – automated bots that collect information from chosen websites. This got me thinking – what is the real value of a single person’s data? What are the components that make up the bulk of its worth, and how can we avoid personal data exposure? Using a US proxy has many benefits that make our browsing sessions more secure, which can be a great aid that seals off private information from cybercriminals and other third parties. US proxies also change your location and provide another level of secrecy to your internet connection. You can use any US proxy or other best proxies from legitimate providers to protect your data. For now, let’s examine which parts of your personal information are the most valuable and worth protecting.

How hackers prey on gullible internet users

Experienced cybercriminals rarely go for random internet users. There is always a bigger prize, and most hackers try to look for unexpected security gaps in databases of somewhat popular companies. If the breach is successful, criminals can leak thousands of private information – from emails to social security numbers. While the clients that get informed about data breaches can change some of the exposed passwords, the consequences of bigger leaks are far more severe.

Unlike big tech companies that harness months if not years of sensitive information about your preferences and activities, hackers do not have the time or resources to turn customers into products. Passwords that may be used for multiple accounts are a decent prize. Medical records can lead to forgery of documents and unauthorized purchases of prescribed opioids and other drugs. The value of your information can differ depending on the creativity of a criminal. All they need to know is how to squeeze every drop of value out of you.

The main prizes of private data theft are bank accounts and ID documents that help hackers access them. Most IDs sell for about $100 a piece, but the whole package, including bank account information can go much higher if the target is wealthy.

Social media networks abuse private information

Social media platforms have revolutionized the internet by introducing new methods of communication and entertainment. The revenue generated by advertisement and the extreme growth of active users create perfect circumstances for blatant surveillance and information extraction.

By creating attractive algorithms that develop an addiction to social media entertainment, big tech companies create an environment where a user is very unlikely to abandon the service even if new ways of inhumane treatment start to arise. Social media platforms that have been caught selling private information have to pay fines, but the revenue these giants generate makes you wonder if the goal is profit or control.

The lack of laws that take a stance for humane technology helps social media networks profile their users for selective advertisement and the most appealing content provided by the algorithm. While businesses can use accumulated knowledge to predict surprising amounts of information about you, the real value comes from the ability to extract data from many users simultaneously.

Should I be selling my data?

Selling your data is rarely a good idea. Because it does not involve sensitive information like your ID, social security number, or bank account, businesses pay far less for such knowledge than the money generated from it.

While it may seem like tech companies already know everything about you, providing clear access to your private data can have long-lasting effects on your browsing experience. If you already feel like the advertisers know too much about you, the additional level of discomfort is not worth the money you will get paid. Instead of further exposure, take a stand and protect your internet connection with proxy servers. While they will not give you complete anonymity on the internet, avoiding IP exposure is a great security practice against cyber criminals and other third parties. Your data is at its most valuable only when it remains in your hands.