“Please go ahead – your details have been successfully anonymized – there is nothing to see here. ”We hear that again and again while we are online: don’t worry about all sorts of companies tracking every step you take on the Internet. All information collected about you has been anonymized and all personal data removed. Even if this data is used to sell advertising or to further develop products, it is not about you. Don't worry, don't think, just click.
Just follow the money to your data.
There are many reasons to believe that anonymization is an effective protection of your privacy– but mostly it's about money. We live in a surveillance economy in which there is a great financial interest in collecting, viewing and using your data. It starts with Google tracking its users online, monitoring Facebook likes, Amazon tracking its customers in all phases of the sales process and there are now countless data intermediaries. Even security companies are involved in this data collection business. According to a recent article in the New York Times Hundreds of trackers were found that a journalist when visiting 47 websites followed in one day. Regardless of the size of these companies, everyone wants to show you that the data collected about you has been anonymized securely.
“ Consumers know that companies sell their data and they don't like it at all. “Anonymous” data can also be combined and processed to identify people. We don't do that and lift us from our competitors ”, says Travis Witteveen to .
But how easy is it really a person out of anonymized data to identify?
You are identified from four data points
Current research results show that only a few data points are actually needed to put an end to the deceptive appearance of anonymization. Researchers only needed 15 data points, all of which came from anonymized databases. If you have a smartphone, even fewer data points are enough. Researchers from MIT and from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium found that only four space-time data points (your approximate location at an approximate time) are required to 95 Identify percent of people.
A tool for deanonymization – find your data!
Statistics aside: Researchers have a easy to use tool developed with the You can find out what is the probability that your data will also appear in an anonymized data record. To determine this, the tool only needs your zip code, your gender and your date of birth. The more information you provide, the higher the probability of being hit.
If you now think about where you have given this “basic” information about yourself everywhere, or had to provide it in order to be able to create an account at all, an A ngst and be afraid. Paired with Tracker data gives a pretty good picture about you as a person and your surfing and online buying habits.
Do not rest on your data!
The only conclusion is that you are far less anonymous both online and offline, than you thought possible. Fortunately, there are ways that online Getting anonymity back – at least in part. D as DSVGO for example helps users to have a co-determination right over it what should happen to your data . Other tools, on the other hand, can make online accounts more secure and thus protect you from data theft or ensure that you leave virtually no traces on the net .
“ With us you are almost automatically safe and protected “, says Travis Witteveen. “ Our foundation at Avira has always been a first-class antivirus that we have developed so that it also includes password management, security in the home network , on VPN and protection from trackers comprises. This is complex, but can be controlled with just one click. “