The Dangers Of Companies Selling The Information That You Give Them

With the recession as it is now, there are many companies out there that are trying to find a unique way to make a dollar.

Where companies once had strong principles and would try to treat their customers fairly and honestly, now that is no longer always the case.

Some companies are struggling to make money now and they will use any means to be able to do it.

One of the ways that companies are bringing in extra money to their bank rolls is to sell the customer data that they get from their business.

selling-customer-information

For example, if you signed up for a service that will allow you to fill in forms automatically then the company will take a look at their data and see which web sites you visit the most.

They can tell this information by looking at which web sites the forms are automatically filling out information for.

They now take that information and sell it to a third party.

While they may give your name along with the information, they also might not.

They may just give them your email address so that they can contact you themselves.

This is a practice that is becoming more and more prevalent and, while some people do not care about the practice itself, it seems that the more the average public starts to learn about it, the more put off they are by it.

This is why you will not see most companies promote the fact that they do it and it will be disclosed somewhere in small print on the web site.

But being an unpopular way to make money is not the only concern when it comes to this practice, there is also the concern of security when it comes to this.

There are real security implications behind giving even the seemingly innocuous data from another person.

That is the problem that I am going to focus on in this article.

This is a serious problem that not enough companies think about when they are selling this data.

So let’s take a look at how this give away of your information can come back to haunt you as the user.

How Can Your Data Be Used Against You?

The mind of a hacker is an interesting thing.

No matter if the hacker is a white hat hacker or a black hat hacker; they all have an interesting way at looking at the world.

They are able to look at the simplest things as a problem that must be solved and to solve these problems they will do anything that they can.

This means that, especially a black hat hacker, they will try new and innovative ways to get information to deliver some sort of attack.

The data that the company that you are dealing with gives out can be one of these data sources.

When a company sells the data that it has collected, they will usually sell it to a third party who will then sell it to other people.

Most of the time, the people who buy the data are supposed to be other companies who will be able to capitalize off of it by sending you advertisements but there is no hard and fast rule on who purchases that information.

It could be a hacker, in disguise as another company, who purchases that data from them.

Some of the companies that sell their customers’ information to third parties will give out both the first and the last name of their customers to the third party that is involved but it does not take a name and address to be able to run an attack on this person.

All a skilled hacker would need is an email address and the other data that gives some personal information about you on the form.

Usually through the information that you gave to the company, it will allow the third party to know your age, sex and the country that you live in.

Of course this is the bare minimum of information that they will get and it will usually be a bit more.

That little bit of information would be all that a hacker would need to be able to send a well-crafted attack towards you.

They can take your email address and send you an interesting message based on the criteria that they were given by the company.

This means that there is a good chance that you will open it because, just like for normal companies that will use this information to their advantage, the hacker is hitting all of the right selling points.

Once they are able to do this, they can then send you a downloadable that will have the attack right in it.

There are several more ways that your personal information being sold to third parties can hurt you; this is only one way.

When you sign up for a service, make sure that you do not just run through the checklist that they are offering.

If they are going to sell your data then most likely they are going to ask you permission in one of those check boxes.

Make sure you look first to make sure that your information is not being sold.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Selling consumer personal information is unfortunately the new gold rush and it’s worth billions. Every company is doing it now and lying to you about keeping your information confidential. Just look in the news and you will see how they use vague scenarios that don’t have to be proven like being hacked as a means to unload their brimming collection of information to the highest bidder. Sometimes the corrupt companies simply change the small print in their privacy policy without notice and count on the consumer not paying attention which they don’t in most cases . There are currently no laws preventing these companies from exploiting your personal information. They’re allowed to share your information with affiliates (information buyer) even if you say no. The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act passed in 1999 allows banks, credit card companies and insurance companies or whoever to share consumer information with so-called affiliates. There is no limit on the number of affiliates they can have. Should there not be some means of regulating these unethical monsters before they further erode our nation and capsize the future of consumer trust?

Trackbacks

  1. […] But if you are the end user, does this business model work for you? For the most part it does and you are able to benefit from the deal greatly. You can get the information that you need at a low price and the person you are getting the information from is able to get paid. But you have to remember that when websites offer advertising to their users, it is usually the users that are the product for the people buying the ads. You are the one that provides value to them on the website and there are some out there who will try to extract as much value as they can from the users of the site. That is why you need to be careful when you are on the web when it comes to advertising. While most of the advertising out there is fine, there are some advertisers who are willing to do bad things with your personal information to try and make money. […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lee, Joe Burton. Joe Burton said: internetcrimes.net The Dangers Of Companies Selling The Information That You Give Them http://bit.ly/fSBJGf computer forensics […]

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