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A snapshot of the digital you: What info do big data companies collect and why does it matter?


June 22, 2023

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A snapshot of the digital you: What info do big data companies collect and why does it matter?

Everything we do online is constantly monitored, whether it’s posting on social media, shopping or surfing the web. From big tech companies and service providers such as your ISP, to web browsers and retailers, they all collect user data for marketing and other purposes.

But have you ever wondered what type of digital breadcrumbs are collected and how your constantly evolving digital footprint can be exploited at the expense of your privacy and security?

The trail we leave behind every time we use the internet and any other connected device includes more data than you think. It’s not just your name, phone number and social media handles you need to worry about.

Here’s what your digital profile may include throughout your digital citizenship:

Data from your social media accounts

  • Personally identifiable information including your name, age and email address plus additional data you may have shared about your education/employment, relationship status, political views, health data and other interests
  • Location data, all contact information in your address book, call logs and text history
  • All social interactions, what you post, likes, accounts you follow, groups you join, posts and comments
  • Sent and received messages, photos, and email addresses
  • Device information including your mobile operator/ISP provider, time zone, phone number, IP address and browser type

Your surfing activity and purchases

  • All credit card numbers you’ve ever used
  • Usernames and passwords
  • Website history and visits and the amount of time spent on each webpage
  • All purchases including details of the purchased item (price, type, size, etc.)

Media streaming

  • Viewing activities for all movies and TV shows you watch
  • Audio/music listening activities
  • Device information and local network information

Smart devices you use

· Driving patterns, your routes and where you’ve been

  • Your bedtime habits
  • Your home’s climate

Healthcare & fitness activity

  • Your exercise routines
  • Your weight, height and diet habits
  • What medical conditions you’ve researched
  • What medications you purchase

Other types of info linked to you

  • The names of your spouse/partner, children and pets
  • Employment data and income level
  • Charity information
  • Travel information

Why you should care about your digital footprint

In the digital era, consumer data is a mere commodity sold and re-sold to marketing companies and third parties to better target you with ads. Being tracked online is inevitable, and unfortunately, big data companies are not the only ones interested in you.

Cybercriminals are also scouring the web for your data to steal your identity and your money. They target companies that hold valuable consumer data to fuel their fraudulent activities that may ruin more than just your credit score.

They sell your data too. In the aftermath of a breach, cybercriminals usually sell consumer data in bulk or offer it freely on specialized marketplaces on the dark web. This may include your credentials, contact information and payment data.

Even more inconspicuous user data can be used to deliver highly efficient attacks on you or your family members.

How Bitdefender can help you gain control and manage your digital footprint

With Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection service, you can discover and curate the extent of your digital footprint so you can make better privacy-focused decisions to keep you, your online presence and your reputation safe.

Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection combs the web for your old accounts using only your email address and phone number. It allows you to analyze and manage your digital self, reducing the amount of data that can harm your online reputation and put your livelihood at risk.

You can find and delete old accounts, respond to data breaches and sniff out social media impersonators. Each revealed data entry, privacy risk or uncovered data breach comes with easy one-click action items. You can easily head off security risks by immediately changing account passwords and making privacy adjustments on all of your accounts.

You can read more about how you can reduce your digital footprint and improve your privacy here.




Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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