Aggregating and sharing data is a thriving global business given rise by exponentially growing personal data circulating in the digital space. Data aggregators and brokers collate, store and organize data to build millions of profiles in their databases. These databases are then used for various purposes such as targeted advertising, background searches and credit ratings. This could not only be an unwelcome intrusion into your private life but can also leave you vulnerable in the event of a data breach.
While escaping these data companies could be a challenge, it’s still possible to protect your data with a few effective steps. This article provides you with 3 proven measures that you can implement if you are concerned about your data reaching the wrong hands.
1. Remove your data stored by aggregators
Many data brokers and aggregators allow you to choose whether or not you want your data profiles stored with them. For instance, the popular people search site, Nuwber, provides an opt-out form that you can submit online to have your profile removed from its databases. Some sites may provide options to contact them via email or telephone and request for the removal of your data.
Therefore, identify the largest data collecting companies and make opt-out requests with each of them. Alternatively, you could also seek the services of a specialized online site like DeleteMe, which can remove personal data from a range of data collectors at once for a fee.
2. Restrict access to your personal data
While you take measures to remove data collected and stored by aggregators and brokers, it’s also important that you take the necessary steps to prevent them from accessing data that is already available online. The easiest method to achieve this is through privacy settings.
Privacy settings are provided by all social media platforms, email providers, and most other sites where users can create personal accounts. They allow you to restrict public access to your data and limit them to a selected network of people.
Even your web browser provides you with privacy settings so that you can minimize the data trail you leave behind. So, ensure that you delete the search history and deactivate the auto-fill function. Cookies are another common method for websites to collate data regarding your online activities. Disable these and activate the Do Not Track function to prevent unnecessary tracking.
3. Minimize your data trail
This is the essential preventative step to protect your most personal and confidential data. Practice caution about what you share on social platforms since once they are uploaded, you can never know how far they could travel.
And the information you provide for newsletter sign-ups, free research reports or even loyalty cards and discount promotions are also common methods for collecting personal information by data aggregators and brokers. Therefore, think twice when you divulge your details for a free sign-up next time and limit them to only what is necessary.
The importance of protecting your data in this information-age could not be stressed enough. Therefore, while taking measures to remove any personal information held by data collectors, ensure that you take proactive steps to minimize access and limit the data trail you leave behind in the digital space.