IT Security

Data Mining Privacy Protection

What is Data Mining Privacy Protection?

Data mining is the practice of analyzing large databases to generate new information. It involves exploring and analyzing data in order to identify meaningful patterns and trends. Data mining can be used for many legitimate and helpful purposes, such as fraud detection and spam filtering, and it is frequently used by companies to understand customer behaviors, such as travel patterns and purchase histories, to anticipate what customers are going to do next. Applications of data mining include:

  • Sales. Companies can used information obtained at point-of-sale systems to learn when a purchase was made, what products were sold together, and more, and can use this information to strategically develop their product lines.
  • Marketing. Companies can use data mining to understand where ads were viewed, which demographics to target, where ads should be places, and to determine what marketing strategies are most effective.
  • Manufacturing. Data mining can be used to examine the manufacturing process to identify bottlenecks and redundancies and to improve products and supply chains.
  • Customer service. Operational information about customer interactions can be analyzed to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.

The information collected from data mining can be beneficial to both companies and their customers by improving goods and services, but consumers may not be aware of the extent of the data that has been collected about them, or the threats that may come from it being acquired by cyberattackers. Companies can acquire customer data from many online sources such as social media, applications, websites, IoT devices, and smartphones. Data mining efforts can also gather information from public records such as voter rolls and property tax records where they can learn ages, addresses, real estate transactions, and mortgage balances. Data mining companies can buy information from websites or other businesses that track customer activities. Profiles created by data miners may include information on millions of people with hundreds of pieces of data for each person.

It is difficult to keep your data out of the hands of data miners, as much of that data is collected through regular interactions with the world such as shopping, communicating, and using transportation. Additionally, mobile phones frequently have hidden app trackers and many users have location switched on, allowing locations to be tracked in real time. The major concern is that your privacy or even safety may be threatened if this personal sensitive information about you is obtained by cyberattackers. While it may be difficult to prevent data mining, you can attempt to limit the data that is available to data miners by:

Using a VPN. A VPN hides your IP address to protect your location information.

Using cash. Every time you swipe a card, data is being collected about you.

Checking apps and permissions. Remove apps that you do not need and do not allow apps to track your location.

Updating browser settings. Modify browser settings so that tracking is not allowed, and browser history and cookies and cleared after each session.