We live in a dual world, part physical, part digital. The latter allows us to be connected, informed, and entertained. It also lets us extend our possibilities beyond our immediate reach. However, few consider the trails left behind by our digital footprints, and how much information is floating around the world wide web.
Controlling your digital footprint is essential in modern life, as cybercrime is on the rise, and it’s difficult to regain full control of your personal information.
What Is Your Digital Footprint?
This term encompasses the virtual trail left by your online activities and interactions across the internet. It includes every movement you make online, from social media posts, comments, and likes to data on third-party websites, online purchases, emails, subscribing to a newsletter, and many other online activities.
While many of these aren’t nefarious per se, they can be used to track your activities. Your information can also be held by a broker and sold, where advertisers can analyze it to offer more targeted ads.
Should You Be Concerned About Your Digital footprint?
Yes, of course! Cybercrime is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in the global community. It’s almost impossible to leave no trace of yourself online, making you vulnerable to be the next target.
While; you innocently scroll the internet, browse the latest deals, you are leaving your data floating on the net and giving access to data brokers. It may seem like there is nothing to be concerned about at that moment, it’s important to understand that data breaches can still occur even if a website doesn’t have ulterior agendas.
You can take many steps to minimize and secure your data, by opting out of data broker records (manually, or through an automated data removal service), clearing your data from Google and the internet, and adding a secure VPN connection.
How To Manage Your Online Data
The central premise is they can’t use what doesn’t exist. That means if you had no online presence, you’d be invisible. So, all the ideas next point towards that direction:
- Self-Search and Monitoring: Conduct a self-search on search engines like Google to see your online presence. You can also set a Google Alert with your name so you’ll be informed when anything mentioning you shows up.
- Account Management and Privacy Settings: Efficiently manage your online accounts by deleting unused ones from websites. Ensure that your active accounts are set to private, restricting visibility of your posts or images to only trusted connections or friends.
- Secure Browsing Practices: Utilize incognito or private browsing windows while surfing the web. This is extremely important since it prevents browsers from building a profile based on your data.
- Cookie Deletion and Log-out Protocol: Regularly delete cookies from your browser to safeguard your data. Understand that this might necessitate re-authentication on websites. However, a good practice is to log out of all accounts once your browsing session is completed to enhance security.
- Phone Number Privacy Check: Verify the visibility of your personal information, like your name and phone number, online. If found, take steps to make your phone number unsearchable to maintain your privacy online.
To Close Off
Summing up, there’s a lot you can do to engage in a more private digital life, but it does require due diligence and being on guard. How you approach it is personal, but the more you do, the safer you’ll be.