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What is a Data Broker?

Data brokers are businesses that gather personal information about individuals from a range of sources. They then aggregate this data and sell it to other companies for purposes such as marketing, risk assessment, or research.

Data Brokers Explained

A data broker, often referred to as an information broker, is a business that collects, aggregates, organizes, and sells or distributes information about individuals to other businesses, organizations, or entities. This data can be utilized for various purposes, including targeted advertising, market research, and risk assessment.

Where do data brokers get your information?

  1. Public Sources: Data brokers often harvest information from public records such as voter registrations, birth certificates, criminal records, and bankruptcy documents.
  2. Search History: They track and analyze your online browsing patterns to understand your interests and habits.
  3. Online Agreements: When signing up for online services or products, users often (sometimes unknowingly) give companies permission to collect and share their information.
  4. Purchase History: This includes details about what products or services you buy, how you buy them, and when.

Who are the largest data brokers?

  1. Epsilon Data Management, LLC: A leading provider of consumer data globally.
  2. Oracle America, Inc. (Oracle Cloud Data): A tech conglomerate with an extensive database of consumer details.
  3. Acxiom, LLC: A massive data broker gathering various personal details about consumers worldwide.
  4. Equifax Information Services, LLC: Apart from being a data broker, it's also one of the top three credit reporting agencies in the U.S.
  5. Experian, LLC: Another significant player in both data brokering and credit reporting in the U.S.
  6. CoreLogic: Focuses on property ownership and spending habits of consumers.

 

What personal information do data brokers collect?

  1. Identifying Information: Full name, gender, birth date, and contact details.
  2. Demographics: Marital status, family situation, level of education, and job.
  3. Financials: Assets and purchase habits.
  4. Preferences: Interests, hobbies, political beliefs, and health history.
  5. Legal: Criminal record and past legal issues.

 

How data brokers use your information?

  1. Targeted Advertising: By understanding user preferences and behaviors, businesses can direct their advertising more efficiently.
  2. Risk Assessment: Banks and other financial institutions may use personal data to gauge loan risks.
  3. Market Research: To understand consumer trends and preferences.

 

What cybersecurity risks are associated with Data Brokers?

The vast repositories of personal information managed by data brokers are attractive targets for cybercriminals. Risks include:

  1. Data Breaches: Large databases can be compromised, leading to theft of personal information.
  2. Identity Theft: Cybercriminals can use the stolen data for impersonation.
  3. Phishing and Scams: With detailed personal information, scammers can create highly convincing fake communications.
  4. Sale to Malicious Entities: Data can be sold to parties with harmful intentions, including cyberstalkers or even blackmailers.

 

How to protect your data from data brokers

  1. Limit Online Sharing: Avoid unnecessary sharing of personal details on social platforms and other websites.
  2. Use a VPN: Virtual private networks can encrypt your data and hide your online actions.
  3. Anonymous Browsing: Tools like Tor browser help in maintaining online anonymity.
  4. Opt-Out: Use services like OptOutPrescreen.com, DMAchoice, and the National Do Not Call Registry to limit data access.

In today's digital age, being informed about data brokers and their operations is crucial. This article serves as a starting point in understanding the role of data brokers in our digital lives and how we can better protect our personal information.

 

To help prevent your personal data from being used against you or your organization in advanced phishing scams, we recommend you check out IRONSCALES, an AI-powered anti-phishing platform. Get a hands-on demo today here.

 

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