After news spread quickly last week that the data of 700 million LinkedIn users had reportedly been found for sale on the web, consumers soon learned the alleged data breach was actually the result of scraping—something experts say is different from a breach and can’t be easily avoided.
With a contentious history dating back to the aughts, data scraping (or web scraping) is essentially the automated collection of public-facing data from websites on the internet. Although not always a bad thing depending on its use, scraping can carry privacy risks when it involves personal information.
“Everyone needs to realize that the minute you turn your phone on, your data is going everywhere,” Raffaele Mautone, CEO and founder of AaDya Security, a cybersecurity firm that works with small to midsize businesses, told Lifewire in a phone interview. “I always say that to people, and they’re in shock that they somehow can’t protect their data.”