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On Your Side: Data privacy and protection

On Your Side: Data privacy and protection
On Your Side: Data privacy and protection 03:11

Be careful what you click on! You could be exposing your personal information. Here's what you can do to protect yourself.

This week is data privacy week. What you may not know is that there are hundreds of data brokers in the U.S. that get access to all types of sensitive information, from your address to who you're related to and where you shop. That could put you at risk.

Data collection, and the sale of that data, is a pretty unregulated industry. And you may be shocked at how much data collection you've agreed to -- and how easily it can get into the hands of hackers and scammers.

That data is collected legally various ways. From the ads you click on, to the sites you surf, even the apps you download and the email or text alerts you sign up for to get a discount at your favorite stores.

Experts say, chances are if you're getting something for free, that company is likely selling your info.

"There are a lot of companies out there that traditionally may have had a certain product, but as they have grown they started getting into the data business," said Alex Hammerstone, an information security expert with TrustedSec. "So they may be selling a particular product, but they are also collecting a ton of data that they can then sell, and sometimes that side of the business becomes larger than their core business."

If you don't want your data tracked this extensively, you can take steps to protect your privacy.

  • Be careful what you download or accept for free. You often have to agree to a lengthy list of terms and conditions that hand over the rights to your personal data.
  • If you really want to crack down, there are internet browsers and emails that are designed not to track you, but you may have to pay for those.
  • Limit what personal data you share on social media.

Even some cars are now tracking your data, giving the auto makers your driving data: where you drive, where you live, and the places you shop and frequent.

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