Your personal information is worth money, but what about that?

If you want to place an order in a webshop, you will have to enter personal information. As humans, we don’t mind that at all because how else will you get your order home. But unknowingly you still give a lot of personal information to a web shop. It doesn’t just stop at that web shop because a day later you may request quotes for a renovation or you want to compare various energy contracts.

Entering personal information on a website is very easy. Usually via a simple form on a website that looks trustworthy. Of course you check whether the connection is via https://. In addition, the website says that they are reliable and do everything they can to ensure the security of your data. Quickly enter name + e-mail address for that 10 euro discount on your first order. Nevertheless, personal data is leaked every week at various companies due to hackers or a security leak in the website. That data is then sold on the dark web. ExpressVPN has figured out how much your data is worth there.

Personal data is continuously left behind on websites and webshops.
Photo courtesy of NASA on Unsplash

What is the surface web:

The internet that you use every day is also called web, which is an abbreviation of the word websites. After all, the internet largely consists of websites. Surfaceweb is another name that is used and is generally only known by IT people.

This is one of the 3 categories into which websites and other online services can be classified. The others are deep web and dark web.

Surface web refers to websites that are accessible and visible to everyone. It takes place on the surface of the water. Think of news websites, search engines, wikipedia and websites of companies such as the bakery around the corner.

What is the deep web:

Deep web is the next category that takes place just below the surface of the water and is not visible to everyone by default. In this case, it concerns websites or services for which you have to log in. So nothing exciting.

Well-known examples are webmail, social websites, forums and your online banking environment. Basically all websites that you use a number of times daily or weekly. A webshop actually belongs to surface and deep web because you do have to log in for part and not for another part.

What is the dark web:

We descend figuratively further into the water so that it gets darker and darker. Most people don’t venture into the darkest part of a sea and neither does the darkest part of the internet, known as the dark web.

On the dark web you will find websites that offer illegal goods or services. A kind of webshops and forums that may or may not require a login. It is actually a mix of surface web and deep web, but only for a select group of visitors. These visitors are all anonymous unless they identify themselves to each other.

You will also find websites for journalists and whistleblowers who can communicate with each other in a safe way or exchange investigations with each other.

The dark web is actually a completely private internet that you cannot just go to. You need a Tor browser for this. But it is also advised to use a VPN connection and another email address.

Server
Server cabinet photo by Brett Sayles via Pexels

Your personal data is worth money:

You can probably remember a website that has had a leak in the past 6 months. It hit the headlines and you may have even received an email from the company the data was leaked from.

Some leaks concern names and e-mail addresses, but sometimes also addresses, passports, bank details and ordered products. All this information is worth money. Hackers sell this information on the dark web.

This information is then used to call you, for example. This may concern innocent calls from an energy supplier who would like to sell you a contract. Or for less innocent conversations when a bank employee calls to check data and request your PIN code.

Protecting personal data:

The easiest way is not to leave any personal information on the internet. But in 2023 that is no longer really an option.

Nevertheless, I advise you to think consciously before leaving personal information on a website. Of course, the chance that something goes wrong with a large, well-known company is smaller than with an unknown small webshop. But even the big companies get hacked sometimes.

A few tips:

  1. Always use a unique and strong password, so not grandson + year
  2. For less reliable websites, use a different email address, Gmail is free
  3. Try to fill in as little personal information as possible
  4. Check annually whether you can cancel accounts with websites
  5. Use two-step authentication

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