- Avoid inputting data about yourself where ever possible.
- Look for other solutions. It’s not as convenient as we’ve grown accustomed to, but with a little search you’ll find tools like: https://alternativeto.net/ and Privacy.com. Or visit our Privacy Resources page where we’ve done some of the leg work.
- Databases pose massive risks to your privacy. The entire internet runs off them. You must actively decide if you want to use a service that you know is compiling all of your data.
- Companies are trending towards centralization because it’s easier to manage the data.
As you interact in the digital and physical realm, you interact with companies, software, and systems. They all plug information into databases that they manage. Centralization is economical for most businesses. It makes it easier for the company and allows for seamless interaction with large datasets. This isn’t beneficial for the privacy-focused individual though.
Why Centralized Databases are a Point of Danger
Here’s a quick example:
The Ledger hardware wallet company suffered a databreach of 1,000,000 email addresses and 250,000 physical addresses. Anyone with access to a search engine can get access to this database leak.
An attacker can make the assumption that the people in this breach have some kind of exposure to cryptocurrencies. The people who purchased hardware wallets from Ledger now are exposed and are in a much more dangerous situation. Their identities are publicly known and easily searchable.
How to Avoid Centralize Databases
Do not use of services that need identification or need information that can doxx your identity. Look for other alternatives https://alternativeto.net/ – This isn’t possible for every service, but you can only be sure that there’s no other solution after you’ve verified. Support privacy respecting software.
In both the physcial and digital realm, you interact with rewards/referral programs. These programs are an easy way for your personal data to be easily traced back to you. The tradeoff is simple: receive discounts in return for an email address or phone number.
The real winner here is the company who’s got your data for pennies, but turns around and sells it off for more. You miss out on the rewards, but you keep your valuable data.
Another way to avoid centralized databases, outside of not using them, is to not use true information. When checking out at big-box stores, many times you’ll asked to input a phone number. You can reap the rewards and still not give your personal information by using phone numbers that appear in things like pop songs. These numbers get used by many people so using it adds to the anonymity set.
Another tool that you can use when interacting online is a mail-forwarding service like simplelogin.io or anonaddy.com. Both of these services allow you to use a randomly generated burner email, that will forward any email the burner email receives to your designated primary email. You avoid the issue of using your primary email to sign-up for services that you may not an interest in. Using a randomly generated email for each individual service breaks up the linkability between service providers.
The less information you input into centralized services, the less you’re exposed to risk.
If you’re receiving a package, have it delivered under a different name to create obfuscation. You can register multiple names when using commercial mail receiving addresses. When buying products online, you can use something like Privacy.com to obfuscate both payment information and billing information.
This may seem like a banal example but this is a real world example of data aggregation at play. Parking in metropolitan areas can pose another privacy pitfall. You input your license plate and credit card information into these kiosks. Look for other places to park, it may only be a few minutes of an extra walk, but you don’t have the data that now ties your location, license plate number and credit card information in a single database run by a faceless company.