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What Is That Free White Paper Download Really Costing You?

By: Robert Hennessey

What Is That Free White Paper Download Really Costing You?

How Companies Selling Your Data Impacts the Privacy of Your Business 

In today’s interconnected world of business, it’s more important than ever to safeguard the data of your company, and protect yourself from those who would use it to their advantage.

When most people think of protecting company data, they think of the big stuff – servers, personal computers, and other IT infrastructure that may be attacked by phishing attacks, hackers, and malware. However, there is another way that websites can gather and sell personal data – when you offer it to them, voluntarily.

It’s common for B2B professionals to browse a variety of blogs, websites, and resources to help them do their jobs more efficiently – and unfortunately, not all of these websites are entirely above-board. There are quite a few websites out there that thrive by selling the personal data of users – from emails to business information, corporate data, and more.

In this article, we’ll look at the real and potential ramifications of sharing private information and data in exchange for business content – and how you can avoid sharing details about your company with websites that resell your data. Let’s get started.

How Websites Profit By Reselling Your Data

 Your data is precious –, especially in the B2B world. Your personal information can be used to identify the company that you work for – as can information like email addresses and other specifics about your company.

Giving this information opens up quite a few opportunities for websites to make money by selling your data. Many people are interested in acquiring the data of a B2B professional for a large, multinational corporation.

The reasons that someone may want your data might be legitimate, in some cases. For example, a sales company may purchase data from a third-party website in your industry to build up leads, send out emails, and begin cold-calling potential clients. While super annoying, this is indeed legitimate.

But things can be much worse if your data becomes resold to a “bad actor” or a company looking to resort to corporate espionage or data blackmail.

The problem is that websites which collect and resell your data do not care about who they sell it to, and they don’t care about your internet privacy. They will sell it to a B2B sales or marketing company – or a hacker who is looking to breach your corporate data centers. They don’t care, and they do not check who is buying your data.

Selling data can be very lucrative. Boston Consulting Group estimated the data of a single web user to be worth $800+, and to increase in value until 2020.

Many websites sell user data as a way to make extra profits, beyond what they can earn from ad revenue, sponsored blogs, and corporate partners. There are even entire companies, such as the big.exchange, which allows website owners to implement Java code easily that tracks your data, and will enable it to be sold and resold for an additional revenue stream.

The Impact Of Data Reselling On Corporate Privacy 

Here are just a few ways that data reselling from a third party website can affect the privacy and security of your company – even if you only share minimal details about your company and yourself. 

Spam and phishing attacks – With advanced spam filtering, this is not too much of an issue, especially if you have strong IT policies that prevent the opening of mail from blocked addresses and well-known spammers.

Malware distribution – Malware is a different story with 60% of malware embedded in Java code, and 26% of malware finds its way into DOCX macros, both of which can easily be inserted in email links. Efficiently packaged in a legitimate-seeming email – this malware goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Unauthorized contact by vendors and salespeople – When you share your data with a website that resells it, you risk contact from vendors, B2B sales companies, and others with whom you may not want to share your corporate information.

Share your data with a website that resells it, and you could be subject to all of these issues – and many more. The real problem is that, once you’ve shared your data, you have zero control over how it can be put to use by others. It will merely be sold to the highest bidder – whether that’s a legitimate company or a hacker “botnet” which is seeking to destroy your corporate data or worse. 

How You Can Protect Yourself From Unauthorized Data Resale   

So, how can you protect yourself from being targeted by unauthorized data resale? Here are a few of our top tips that will help keep you safe.

Do some digging on a website before you sign up – First things first, you should be wary of any site that seems “too good to be true.” Nobody gives anything away for free – and if you are trading your privacy data for a “free” whitepaper, eBook, or another valuable download, the company is planning to make money somehow.

Of course, they could just be looking to upsell you on another product or service offering – but they could also be collecting your data to sell it to a third party. Often, you can do a little poking around online to see the experiences other people have had with a particular website – and learn whether or not they resell your data. Better yet look for sites that state they “We Do Not Sell Your Data.”

Take a look at the privacy agreement on the website – Most websites that collect your data are responsible for having a legal statement that reveals this fact. Usually, this is hiding somewhere in the privacy agreement policy on the website.

By using the website, you tacitly agree to have your information tracked and resold. Mostly, the only way you can opt-out is by not using the site at all.

Have a corporate policy about what information you can reveal – As a rule, you should never show – or authorize others to disclose – their work phone numbers, email addresses, or even full names when signing up on a new third-party website. As a corporate policy, you should bar employees from revealing too much information about your company.

By following these tips, you should be able to prevent yourself from revealing too much corporate information and private information on any third-party website which may resell your data.

The Best Way To Protect Your Privacy? By Not Sharing Information With Websites That Sell Your Data! 

It’s hard to overemphasize how important information security and your right to privacy are in the B2B world. Revealing your private data to an unauthorized website can easily result in serious issues for your company – so it’s critical to use the above tips to avoid oversharing corporate and personal data online.

So take another look at our tips for protecting your privacy above, and make sure that you only interact with above-board, legitimate websites – especially when you’re looking for business content. By doing so, you can protect yourself, your company, and your internet privacy.

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