One in ten businesses sell your personal data to third parties
Customer data is a valuable commodity to businesses, which they use to improve and market their products. However, some companies profit from selling your data to other businesses. According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, one in ten companies globally sell customer data to third parties.
The numbers are based on The Kaspersky Global Corporate IT Security Risks Survey, which features data from interviews conducted with 5,266 IT business decision-makers from 31 countries across the world. The interviews were conducted in June 2020 and released in November of this year.
The survey reveals that around half of businesses worldwide collect client data. A total of 48% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) with 50 to 999 employees and 52% of enterprises with over 1,000 employees reported that their companies gather information about their clients.
One-fifth of these businesses (18% of SMBs and 21% of enterprises) also sell that data to third parties.
While 24% of SMBs and 21% of corporations do not currently gather customer data, they plan to do so in the upcoming 12 months. A quarter (25%) of small and medium businesses and 23% of enterprises do not collect any customer data.
Alarmingly, 3% of IT decision-makers working at small to medium-sized companies are not aware whether their companies keep client data. The same is true for 4% of corporate IT decision-makers.
While the numbers of such companies are small, they are particularly in danger of data breaches. Without knowing how data is stored, companies cannot adequately protect that data.
Companies that do not collect user data suffer less from data breaches
Companies that collect client data are attractive targets to cybercriminals and, therefore, always at risk of a data breach. Naturally, they also have more to lose if they get hacked.
Overall, companies that gather user data suffer more financially when data breaches happen than those that do not. Additionally, bigger businesses face greater consequences than their smaller counterparts.
Small and medium businesses that collect customer data typically lose 37% more per data breach than those that do not. SMBs that retain customer data pay around $117 thousand per data breach, while those that do not keep client data spend on average $85 thousand.
Enterprises that save customer data also suffer 62% more financial damage due to data breaches. Corporations that gather client data lose, on average, $1.3 million per data breach. In contrast, companies that do not record client data pay $807 thousand.
Many ways companies are collecting your data and what you can do about it
Nowadays, keeping your data private is near-impossible. If you use the internet or any smart devices, chances are you are being tracked.
As a client, you may not always know how companies gather your data and what data is being collected. However, by educating yourself on the issue and following a few general tips, you can minimize the information you share with these businesses.
Here are some of the ways companies are collecting your data online and what you can do about it:
Everyone on the internet has encountered cookies. They help companies track domain visitors and their behavior. With cookies, information about you can be stored locally. It means that each time you visit the same page, various settings do not have to be reconfigured to match your preferences.
If you do not want to be tracked by cookies, you can change your browser settings to stop saving cookies on the pages you visit.
Many of us believe that what we do on the internet remains between us and our computer. However, your internet provider (ISP) can see all your online activities.
Often, they compile browsing data gathered from users and sell it to marketing companies and other 3rd parties. Moreover, your internet provider may be legally required to reveal the data they collect to governmental agencies.
If you want to protect your privacy while browsing the internet, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs, such as Atlas VPN, encrypt your connection and hide your IP address while you are online so you remain anonymous.
Those company newsletters you subscribed to or emails you receive from services you use can also be tracked. Companies can see where the email was opened and on what device.
Everything you post publicly on social media is visible to companies already. However, when you connect your social media accounts with your other logins, you reveal even more information to those companies. While doing so may be more convenient than typing your login details each time, think whether the information you give out is worth it.
These are just some of the most common ways businesses track your online activity. However, knowing how your private information may be collected and used can help you better protect your data.
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.