Companies, hackers and malware are making money with your information. The problem today is not only digital thieves stealing information but also sneaky actors getting to know you and archiving your habits through completely legal ways.

The US Navy, HBO, Yahoo and North Korea’s military have all been victims of serious information theft. Social security numbers, customer information and highly regarded secrets have been stolen, shared and misused.

The damage caused by information theft can be severe. First and foremost, for those individuals whose information has been stolen. Secondly for the companies targeted.

Presently with a few exceptions all companies are digital, from mom and pop shops to global enterprises. In an interconnected world information is steadily at risk of being stolen or misused and companies are always targets.

To avoid digital usage is however, and this comes as no surprise, not an option. On the contrary it is becoming more and more clear that companies need to further advance the way they use digital tools to stay competitive. To implement social media as a means for staff to communicate internally is a must for companies that want to fully tap into the potentials of their personnel. Businesses failing to do so will fall behind and see more innovative competitors surpass them.

This puts even more pressure on online security and integrity. The golden age of the paper shredder has past.

The importance of digital security is often lost within companies and amongst employees. The completely false notion that an intranet because of it being “intra” should be safe from outside threats is unfortunately widespread.

What software businesses choose to use, for email, data storage, file sharing, intranet, chat services, etcetera has a major impact on the level of liability and risk that the company in question is a target for. It is a very challenging, costly and highly demanding task to stay updated on the latest technology, risks and threats.

Today somebody is nearly always watching us as we make our moves online. Our digital footprints are with few exceptions always followed by some snoopy code. Just as information nowadays is a popular thing to steal is data a very popular commodity to sell. Who we contact, what we search for, what site we visit, what we listen to, look at, read, react to online is tracked, registered, sold and used. In an article for the Atlantic the journalist Alexis Madrigal explored how he was tracked on the Internet. He found to his surprise that 104 different companies collected his data. That was in 2012 and the number of players on the data-collecting scene has not become fewer since.

Google, Facebook, Instagram and all major telephone providers are all examples of obvious and well known collectors of data. The reality is that behind the scenes there are many others. Businesses that provide services for consumer-facing companies, such as partners and third-parties operating in the shadows away from the spotlight, for example ISPs (Internet Service Providers), cloud services and even content-delivery networks, are often also gathering data.

These are the companies that for example handle the billions of transactions happening on e-commerce sites, run streaming services and provide your Internet connection. Many people don’t realize that these third-parties often also turn consumer actions into sellable data.

So a problem today is not only digital thieves stealing information but also sneaky actors getting to know you and archiving your habits through completely legal ways. Ways that can be very hard to detect.

What software you choose for your company or business is therefore very important. From a security standpoint but also for the privacy and integrity of your employees. Because there are choices.

Just as there are businesses and software developed with the goal of collecting information there are also the exact opposite:

Companies whose fundamental purpose is to protect their users. Businesses whom are born from the idea and conviction that who you are is not for sale.