3 min read

John Oliver Shows the Dark Side of Data Brokerage on Last Week Tonight

Alina BÎZGĂ

April 15, 2022

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
John Oliver Shows the Dark Side of Data Brokerage on Last Week Tonight

John Oliver, the host of comedy news show Last Week Tonight, recently turned his wit to the hot privacy topic of how unethical data collection practices by data brokers can threaten your security and privacy.

Data brokers – essentially large companies that collect data – process a melting pot of personal information from consumers, Oliver noted. Data brokers are also “monitoring our activities a little bit closer than we would like,” the British-American host added.

Oliver brought a pinch of humor to his 25-minute expose on the subject, but it’s worth breaking down some of the troubling facts revolving around this multi-billion dollar business.

How much information do data brokers collect on consumers?

Most data brokers use the same data collection processes to gather as much information as possible on individuals.

They start by combing through public records such as census data, birth certificates, property records, vehicle registration records, marriage licenses, divorce records and voter registration information.

The process of gathering personal information doesn’t stop here though.

Companies specialized in collecting and trading user data also use the information gathered by apps installed on your smart devices, scrape publicly available social media profiles, buy anonymized credit card and transaction information, use third-party cookies, and even use the information you submit via loyalty card services and online surveys.

Just imagine millions upon millions of data entries on individuals cataloged for maximum profit. This includes names, all known addresses, date of birth, gender, marital status, education background, job, phone number, email addresses, interests, hobbies, shopping habits, criminal records and even Social Security numbers.

Your privacy and security are at risk

Data brokers make enormous amounts of money by collecting information about users like you and selling it to third parties, including government and law enforcement agencies who use it for election campaigns, criminal investigations and other purposes.

On his show, Oliver’s remarks touched on a darker side of data broking organizations' trading practices.  In a notably unsettling incident, a woman was killed after a stalker secretly acquired her information for just $45.

The horrific story may seem far-fetched, but malicious individuals and stalkers sometimes go to extreme lengths to find sensitive information about their victims.

Compiled lists of consumer data can also facilitate scams and can be used to defraud unwary consumers. In one recent case, Epsilon, one of the world’s largest marketing companies, agreed to pay $150 million after it sold the data of millions of US citizens to spammers targeting senior citizens with e-mail-based fraud schemes, including sweepstakes and astrology solicitations.

Among the most significant threats stemming from these business practices are data breaches. Troves of user data are highly profitable on the dark web as they facilitate a variety of illicit activities including identity theft crimes, phishing and account takeover attacks.

How you can boost your online privacy and security

  • Don’t post personal information on social media, and consider making your accounts private
  • Avoid filling out online quizzes and other marketing schemes promising you great discounts or free gifts
  • Use trustworthy apps and uninstall any unused applications from your smart devices – they can silently collect your data and sell it to other third parties
  • Take some time to enhance your privacy and security settings on your Android devices
  • Don’t interact with unsolicited correspondence via email, text or instant messaging
  • Use a security solution and VPN with anti-tracking and ad-blocking capabilities to boost your online safety and privacy


Is your personal information in the wrong hands? Find out now with Bitdefender's Digital Identity Protection. With our dedicated privacy tool, you can:

  • Discover the extent of your digital footprint
  • Find your personal information online, in legal and illegal collections of data
  • Benefit from 24/7 data breach monitoring for up to five email addresses
  • Get instant alerts to new breaches and privacy threats
  • Detect social media impersonators who can ruin your reputation

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

Identifying and Dealing with Online Bullying Is Not Impossible - School Presentation Inside

Identifying and Dealing with Online Bullying Is Not Impossible - School Presentation Inside

June 28, 2022

2 min read
Let’s Celebrate World Social Media Day by Improving Your Privacy and Security Online

Let’s Celebrate World Social Media Day by Improving Your Privacy and Security Online

June 28, 2022

3 min read
Bitdefender Reveals the Top Cyber Threats Faced by Consumers in 2021

Bitdefender Reveals the Top Cyber Threats Faced by Consumers in 2021

June 22, 2022

1 min read
Scam alert: Cybercrooks use shady investment domain to scam keen investors out of money and data

Scam alert: Cybercrooks use shady investment domain to scam keen investors out of money and data

May 24, 2022

3 min read
John Oliver Shows the Dark Side of Data Brokerage on Last Week Tonight

John Oliver Shows the Dark Side of Data Brokerage on Last Week Tonight

April 15, 2022

3 min read
Bitdefender Labs Warns of Phishing Scams Targeting MetaMask Users

Bitdefender Labs Warns of Phishing Scams Targeting MetaMask Users

April 14, 2022

3 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

AMD held to ransom by gang that claims 450GB of data has been stolen AMD held to ransom by gang that claims 450GB of data has been stolen
Graham CLULEY

July 01, 2022

2 min read
South Korean Cybersecurity Agency Released Free Decryptor for Hive Ransomware Victims South Korean Cybersecurity Agency Released Free Decryptor for Hive Ransomware Victims
Vlad CONSTANTINESCU

July 01, 2022

1 min read
Ukrainian Phishers face 15 Years behind Bars after Defrauding Fellow Citizens with Fake Relief Claims Ukrainian Phishers face 15 Years behind Bars after Defrauding Fellow Citizens with Fake Relief Claims
Filip TRUȚĂ

June 30, 2022

1 min read