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Personally Identifiable Information – It’s Just 33 Bits

Just by visiting a website you can give companies enough information for figuring out your salary, whether you have kids, what car you drive. You may be surprised how some seemingly harmless bits of information can give companies more data than you can probably imagine.

How it works

When you land on a site, the software logs the information passed between your computer and the site. It notes where your computer is physically located, in some cases it also records the other websites you visited. Than in a fraction of a second the companies can analyze all that information and assign you to a demographic, then determine whether you’d be a valuable customer, even what your salary could be in the future.

Although they say they are not recording your name but essentially you have been boiled down to 33 bits of data. That basically means that they are able to compile age and address, and make of car and zip code and all other bits that they seek out on the Internet based on web history, based on tracking software on different websites that you’ve visited.

And the idea would be they can market to you things that they think your profile suggests you would want. You get to a certain website and based on your browser and who you may be, they begin to show you advertisements on who you are, based on statistical analyses from history, based on the tracking from websites you’ve previously visited.

They are able to resource and access multiple databases instantly. Information they probably already have housed and than from there through statistical analyses they boil down zip code or what the average income might be for the people around you, the car that you may drive, websites you visited and so on.. And then from there they can boil it down pretty quickly based on gender, etc. Once they start cutting out all these bits, eliminating certain bits of data and combining bits of data then they have a good profile and who you are.

The biggest concern

If the good guys could do this then the bad guys can probably do it better. And the bad guys could target you in some way. They can compromise your identity and privacy. They find more and more about you and often, unfortunately, it’s the consumer who is providing all of this information.

Although there are anonymous browsing capabilities, still there is enormous amount of data that we’re providing in social media sites that we sign up to. We voluntarily provide a lot of information about what we do and who we are. That gives them a lot of data that they can use for advertising and marketing. We’re often providing too much information that gives both the good guys and of course the bad guys enough data to either commit fraud or to sell us something we may or may not want.

In the age of cybercrime and about 11 million identities being compromised every year, we need to think of how to protect ourselves. We need to recognize that information we put out there on the Web, ultimately can affect us negatively. If the good guys can get it, the bad guys can certainly get it too.

It’s recommended to start investing in identity theft protection, doing anonymous browsing, updating Internet security software, not signing up and providing the world with all your information via social media, just being smart.

Author Bio:- Alex Lamman is a 25 years old software engineer, snowboarder and just a loving father from Germany.  He is Internet security addict and helps to run Privacy PC – a website which guides you through the news, reviews, tips and software needed for protection in all critical privacy and security areas.

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