Personal Data Value: How Much Is Your Data Worth?
We live in a world where corporations, criminals, or interested individuals are ready to pay for sensitive, sometimes even intimate, pieces of personal information for both commercial and personal reasons.
Here at MacKeeper, we've researched the topic and found out how much companies and individuals pay for data on the dark web (the main marketplace of stolen personal information) and what sorts of personal information "boast" the highest price tag.
So, How Much Is User Data Worth?
The cost of personal data is an interesting subject to discuss. Mostly, because the worth of our data usually depends on who's asking and with what goal in mind.
What kind of person you are matters, too. Things like your job title, annual income, social status, and health condition make your data less or more valuable on the market. There are multiple factors affecting the cost of your data.
If you want to know an exact number, try the personal data cost calculator we found on Financial Times. By answering a set of questions about your demographics, consumer habits, health and marital status, the algorithm predicts the economic value of your personal information.
Spoiler alert! Unless you are a millionaire in a C-level position who is currently engaged, own a home with a fireplace, and have a few chronic health conditions, the cost of your personal data will be ridiculously small. And by “ridiculously small,” we mean that it will cost less than you pay for your latte in Starbucks (even if you order the smallest).
Such calculations, of course, are not personalized and do not take into account that someone might be seriously interested in getting access to your personal data.
How Much Do We Think Our Personal Data Cost
How we value our own personal data is fascinating, too. Interestingly, men and women tend to think of the cost of their personal data differently.
While most men value personal data higher than women when asked for an actual price (it is £4,174 versus £3,109 respectively), women are less likely to consider selling their personal data in the first place.
Why is that so? As it turns out, despite being able to name the price, most women tend to consider their personal data priceless.
What Pieces of Data Are the Most Expensive and Why?
One of the main factors affecting the cost of personal information on a black market is how much value one can get from it in the future.
Consequently, here is what the list of most expensive personal data looks like (organized from the most to the least expensive):
- U.S. Passports ($1000-$2000)
- Medical records ($1-$1000)
- Diplomas ($100-$400)
- Online payment services credentials ($20-$200)
- Credit and debit cards ($5-$110)
If you're surprised that your medical records cost more than your payment service credentials, don't be. Who do you think might be interested in paying for documents that reveal your health conditions? Pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies. Why do you think they need such information? To collect insights about your symptoms, improve and personalize their marketing messages, and boost sales.
Likewise, who do you think would chase after stolen passports or diplomas? Those trying to get themselves better lives by pretending to be someone they're not. Since such dark web customers basically buy themselves new lives, it's no wonder they're ready to pay a lot.
Should You Be Worried about Your Personal Data Being Sold?
Absolutely. Don't be disoriented by the ridiculously low price your personal data seems to cost according to average estimates or personal data value calculators.
The potential economic value of your personal data is one thing, but your perceived value is another. The perceived value is what matters for you as the owner of this information and, as you understand, it's more than money. Losing sensitive information to advertisers, hackers, frauds, or corporations might have an undesirable effect on your emotional comfort. After all, there are kinds of information we'd prefer to keep private. It is one of our basic human rights.
Although it might cost less than a dollar for a pharmaceutical or advertising company to find out how old you are, what chronic health conditions you have, and what your marital status is, losing this sort of information to them might cost you hundreds in the long run.
Let us explain. By knowing what your health condition is and what symptoms you complain about the most, the big pharma guys will be able to trick you into buying their new, usually overpriced, product.
All they need is to promise to address the very exact symptoms you're dealing with and make this promise the headline of their marketing campaign. "Wow, looks like this pill has been invented specifically for me, I should give it a try!" is what you'll think after seeing a pre-roll ad on YouTube.
That's how things work. Although the bits of information about you might be sold for as little as a few cents, the potential income these bits of data may generate for companies is counted in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
It's time to face the truth: data is the currency of the internet age and personal data is its largest denomination. Furthermore, there are grounds to assume that this trend will only gain momentum.
In such a world, it becomes increasingly important to share your personal information wisely and, whenever possible, rely on privacy protection software designed to keep your private data out of other people's reach.