Customer data is a valuable commodity to businesses, which they use to improve and market their products. However, some companies profit from selling your data to other businesses.

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, one in 10 businesses globally sell customer data to third parties.

The numbers are based on The Kaspersky Global Corporate IT Security Risks Survey, which features data from interviews with 5 266 IT business decision-makers from 31 countries globally. The interviews took place in June 2020 and were released in November 2020.

The survey reveals that around half of businesses worldwide collect client data. A total of 48% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) and 52% of enterprise representatives reported that their companies gather information about their clients. One-fifth of these businesses (18% of SMBs and 21% of enterprises) also sell that data to third parties.

Rachel Welch, chief operating officer of Atlas VPN, says people can better protect their data online: “Nowadays, people face a challenge of balancing privacy and usability. They cannot control how securely companies store their information or in whose hands their data might end up. However, people can make sure that they limit the information they reveal online. Using a VPN, reconfiguring your device’s privacy settings, and reading Privacy Policy before you sign up for a new service are just some of the things I would recommend to protect your personal data better.”

While 24% of SMBs and 21% of corporations do not currently gather customer data, they plan to do so in the upcoming 12 months. A quarter (25%) of small and medium businesses and 23% of enterprises do not collect any customer data. The remaining 3% of SMBs and 4% of corporations do not know whether they collect client data.

Companies that collect client data are attractive targets to cybercriminals and, therefore, always at risk of a data breach. They also have more to lose if they get hacked.

SMBs that collect customer data typically lose around $117 000 per data breach – 37% more than their counterparts that do not collect user data. Enterprises that gather customer data also suffer 62% more financial damage due to data breaches. On average such enterprises lose $1,3-million per data breach.