Protecting Your Identity on the Internet - Part 1: Fighting Data Brokers - ITS Tactical

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Protecting Your Identity on the Internet – Part 1: Fighting Data Brokers

By Jack H.

Privacy Please

Imagine a file containing your name, address, political party, income, hobbies and favorite brand of soap. Sounds like the intro to a spy movie right? Wrong, this file is in the hands of plenty of private companies who are willing to sell it to the highest bidder. Data brokers, as they’re known, make a living selling your information to companies to develop targeted advertising and profile you as an individual.

Using computer sources and marketing data, processed data brokers are even able to determine if you’re going to be having a child soon. Besides invading personal privacy, this information helps hackers and those seeking to commit identity fraud. Hackers and fraudsters have purchased access or broken into data broker databases and then used the information for nefarious plots.

How to Fight Back

Regulations on consumer privacy in the USA allow you to opt out of data brokers to an extent. You can send an opt out request to a company to opt out of sharing most information with other companies. The most effective opt out requests are the ones sent to data broker companies themselves. While opting out will not delete the information, it will instruct the data broker to not share it with anyone else.

Opting Out

Let’s take control of our personal information and start opting out as many data brokers as we can. Most major data brokers have online opt out forms and others may need you to send in a letter or fax.

Datalogix

Datalogix Opt Out

Datalogix is a data broker that focuses on online and direct mail. Notable users of Datalogix include Facebook, Ford, Google and Pepsico. Opting out of Datalogix can be completed by navigating to datalogix.com/privacy/, scrolling down to the “Choice” section and clicking on the third “click here” link and a small form will appear. Fill this out with your accurate personal information and click “Submit.”

DMAChoice

While DMAChoice is not a data broker itself, it represents almost 3,600 marketing companies that are all involved in sending you catalogs, magazine offers and credit offers. Opting out of the companies represented by DMAChoice can be done by using the DMAChoice account wizard found on dmachoice.org/register.php. Once you register and confirm your account, it’s as easy as logging in and clicking the “Go” button next to “Stop all unsolicited promotional mail.”

eBureau

eBureau Opt Out

eBureau is an “industry leading provider of predictive analytics” which is data broker speak for “We’re good at putting together pieces of your life and selling them.” To opt out of eBureau you can go to ebureau.com/privacy-center/opt-out and fill out the simple form on the right hand side of the webpage.

Epsilon

Epsilon Data Management provides email marketing making them quick to opt out of by only entering your email into their online form. Simply visit info.epsiloninteractive.com/p/WebSiteLeads/Epsilon_Opt-Out, drop in your email and you’ll be removed.

Experian

Experian handles email, telemarketing, direct mail and pre-approved credit offers making them one of the largest sources of data to opt out of. Experian’s opt out process is more difficult, involving both phone calls and emails. To start the process visit experian.com/privacy/opting_out.html and follow the links for opting out of the various services offered by Experian.

Intelius

While Intelius isn’t a traditional data broker, they provide the power of a traditional data broker to anyone who will pay, allowing anyone to get personal information with just a few clicks. Intelius’ opt out process uses an easy online form available at intelius.com/optout.php but requires a scanned copy of your ID to verify you are who you say you are.

If you opt out of the above mentioned data brokers, you’ll start to notice a change in the flow of junk mail, marketing emails, telemarketers and credit offers. With less credit offers arriving in the mail, you can sleep well at night knowing that nobody is rummaging through your mailbox to steal that pre-approved credit card. Opting out is a good start, but there are still plenty of other sources that have your personal information just a few clicks away. In the next part of this series, I’ll cover deleting yourself from various Person Lookup/People Search websites.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please welcome Jack H. as a contributor on ITS Tactical. Jack is a self-proclaimed tactical paper hole punching expert and lead offensive cyber security engineer at Azorian Cyber Security in Denver, Colorado. When not breaking internet security, Jack spends his time taking apart and breaking various firearms.

Title Image © Josh Hallett

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Discussion

  • TJ Mckray

    assbook is the biggest data seller

  • Laura Readie

    Bob . . .

  • Jack Timar

    Lol. Privacy. Nice one.
    But we are happy to call out “other people” for targeting as long as the “right people” are left alone.

  • stevbarto

    I tried to find the opt out form on the NSA website, no joy.  Kidding.  Really good article, thanks.  I have some homework to do.

    • colt triarii

      stevbarto the NSA is Catch 22–if you ask to opt out, they open up a file on you

  • Scott_Richards

    I am all for opting out of services and companies to protect your privacy and data a but let’s be clear about some things:

    1 – For what it is worth, all the data that is collected about people through these companies is highly regulated and conforms to laws set forth by the government and are getting stricter every month.  There are companies that don’t follow the law such as all of those Facebook applications people use to take those fun surveys that tell you what cookie you are.

    2 – Data is collected 2 ways: Active: where you are knowingly providing personal data in exchange to get access to something such as signing up to comment on this blog (funny how that works) or Passive where people are collecting data on you based on what you are engaging with (also taking place on this blog via Google Analytics)

    3 – The types of data being collected and how it will be used will be clearly articulated on the websites TOC or Privacy Policy page such as   http://itstactical.com/forum/index.php?/privacypolicy/

    4 – Before you receive any communications such as email or direct mail you need to willingly opt-in to receive it. It is illegal for a company to randomly send a person an email without their permission. If they do, they can be reported as Spam and blocked from major ESPs from sending anymore future emails. There are companies that do but they are not associated with the companies above. And the companies above can send you stuff because somewhere along the way you have opted in to allow them to. 

    5 – Not anyone can buy lists of data from these providers. You need to follow specific legal guidelines that reflect the agreement with the consumer on how their data was being used when they opted into the service that collected the data.

    6 – The companies you list above only have pieces of information you signed up for through their services, such as an email address or website engagement data, they are separate entities that do not merge their information. So a provider with your email address will not have your website engagement data or sales data.That is left to the brands and labels such as ITS Tactical to do which will have some sort of key to match data across their engagements.

    7 – The example of predicting when a person is pregnant is misleading as it didn’t happen with any of the companies above, that was purely Target. And they didn’t use any data source available to the above companies to figure it out. They simply look at what people purchase from their stores and realized that pregnant people bought a certain series of products. When a person followed that same trend, they sent out and email. No scary big data just simple logic. If everyone who walks into my coffee shop at 7am buys coffee, and Josh walks into my coffee shop at 7:10am, I can deduce that Josh wants coffee too. 

    If you are interested in protecting your privacy, it starts with using the right tools, from creating a fake email account with fake name, never opting into communications or services, not belonging to social media, blocking cookies, using a private browser such as TOR, using encrypted messaging, not having cable TV, not having utilities, not using credit cards, having a bank account, unlisting your phone and home address… To do this right and effectively takes a certain extremist that is not reading this blog for fear of the NSA spying on them.
    At the very least you should install a browser plugin called Ghostery (yes they will track some data) that will tell you what is being tracked on whatever websites you use. To give you an example this website tracks: My website engagement data with Google Analytics, Gravatar that identifies you by your data when you sign into comment on a blog, Quantcast which is an advertising company that tracks your engagement and serves up relevant ads based on your engagement.

  • colt triarii

    Thank you for the article. I opted out of everything!!!

  • lightfighter

    Ironically one has to provide all their information – to companies that may not have already had it – to opt out !

    Stay off of porn sites and at the very least never download anything off them.

    • Echo4Tango

      I’m with lightfighter on this one…
      Jack – can you shed some light/logic on why it’s a good idea to give more info (especially a copy ofor drivers licence) to companies that don’t seem trustworthy to begin with?
      Are we at the “well they have most of it anyway…” stage?

  • PJ

    Impossible to protect your privacy from those who truly want access to it.  Read that again: IMPOSSIBLE.  Yes you might be able to opt out of randomly generated spam but if anyone with a brain wants access to your information they will have it, and they will have it ALL.  Believe it.

    • JackH

      @PJ Yeah its impossible to become a complete ghost you will always be in a database but like being a new born turtle its not about being the hardest turtle its about being harder than the turtles around you.

  • I’ve always read write-ups like this, but I think yours was written very well with the key points laid out satisfactorily. As a tech noob I just recently opted to use a VPN for my online security. I’ve had FrootVPN https://www.frootvpn.com/ since then and I can say I will stick to it for a long time now. It’s high speed and encrypted so I’m okay with it and for my budget. Anyways, thanks for the article!

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