Did you know you always leave digital footprints behind whenever you are involved in any type of online activity?
If you haven’t heard of the term ‘Digital Footprint’ yet and not sure what you can do if it is compromised, you must continue to read this article.
What is a Digital Footprint?
A digital footprint is a stream of data you create while working online. In other words, it is the evidence of your online presence and is applicable to everyone who uses the internet or is involved in any sort of online activity.
What Forms Our Digital Print?
Your online activities are recorded by different companies and third-parties since it leaves a digital footprint.
Take a simple example here. When you type anything in Google, it records your questions and also saves search history. Similarly, when you browse through any website, they ask you to accept cookies so that your location can be traced on the basis of your IP address.
Examples of Data in Our Digital Footprint
Some of the actions that can significantly impact the size of your digital footprint include:
- Shopping data (online purchases/creating accounts/signing up for coupons)
- Health/Fitness data (gym membership signups/blog subscriptions/tracking apps)
- Financial data (mobile banking apps/account openings/trading stocks)
- News data (newsletter signups/news apps)
- Social data (data and information shared on social media channels)
Why Does it Matter?
There are many reasons why you should protect your digital footprint to keep yourself from the potential risks you may face in the digital world. Some of those risks include:
- Data theft and manipulation
- Scams and spam
- Identity theft
- Fake website
5 Steps to Protect Your Digital Footprint Online
- Pay Attention to What You Share Online
The number one way to protect your digital footprint online is by carefully paying attention to what you decide to share and not share in the digital world of the Internet. This is because what you share online can significantly impact the size of your digital footprint. Remember, once you post something online and upload it to the cloud, you simply can’t take it back.
Even if you have posted something by mistake and deleted it after a few minutes, the chances are people will still see the post. Also, since most of the social networking channels nowadays automatically backup your data on the cloud, anything you post online is likely to be saved forever.
That’s why it’s important to always think twice before posting anything, and making sure that you protect your own privacy and information.
- Encrypt Your Network
Another way to protect your footprint online is to buy a VPN to protect your online privacy and data security. A VPN provides an encrypted network and redirects all your internet traffic and encrypt data through it, making it unreadable to anyone who intercepts and tries to spy on your traffic.
Some of the prominent benefits of using a VPN include:
- Protected file sharing
- Better security
- Enhanced performance
- Prevent blockers and filters
- Check Your Privacy Settings
Almost all service providers offer a privacy settings option where you can check out the info you generally share online.
If a particular service already holds a massive amount of information, make sure you find ways to determine who you’re sharing your precious information with.
Therefore, it is crucial that you always customize the ‘privacy settings’ option to control your online privacy. You certainly do not want random strangers or cyberstalkers to be able to view all your private personal information.
In addition, it is also important to secure your devices as hackers can easily get access to your devices and retrieve personal information.
Always use strong passwords and change them frequently to avoid getting your valuable personal info into the wrong hands.
- Use Incognito Mode when Browsing
One of the effective ways to reduce your digital footprint is by browsing undercover. Yes, you read that right.
You can use Incognito for your everyday browsing to stop websites tracking your history and browsing activity.
Incognito, also known as private mode, enables you to browse without storing history or cookies after you shut the browser window down.
- Clean Up Your Existing Footprint
The last but also one of the most effective things you can do to minimize your digital footprint is to examine your online presence to see what’s already out there. While it is pretty obvious that the person you’re today was very different from what you were 10 -years back, it is also likely that the person you are today has more footprints online than the person you were 10 years ago.
The issue is all of your data remains intact online even if you cleanse and refresh your browser window after posting anything.
A general rule of thumb is to review your old posts by typing your name in the search boxes available on the social media channels. You can also refine your search by specifying the range of dates to only see the posts and tweets you’ve posted during that specific period of time.
By following this strategy, you can easily see what undesirable things you have posted during that time frame. Simply remove them if you feel these posts do not represent you in the best light possible to clean up your online presence.
Bonus Tips to Consider
Never Share Personal Data on Public Wi-Fi:
Refrain from sharing private information and sensitive data, such as passwords, account numbers, and security codes across public Wi-Fi networks.
Get Rid of Your Old Accounts:
If you have created many social media accounts in the past and are no longer using them, delete them right away. Similarly, if you have subscribed to the newsletters that you’re not interested in reading now, you can simply unsubscribe yourself from the list to reduce your digital footprint.
Split Your Footprint:
It’s absolutely okay if you don’t want to give out every minute detail about yourself over the internet.
If you’re not confident about giving your bank or credit card details on all dropshipping websites and e-commerce portals, you can ask the vendor for other available options, such as Cod. If it is still unavoidable, dedicate a credit card for online use only so that you can cancel it immediately if any problem arises.
Use the Latest Version of an Antivirus Software:
Your information can be misused in a number of different ways. One of the easiest ways to protect your devices and personal data is to install antivirus software. There are many options available on the market. Just ensure you keep your version updated so that it can provide the best possible results.
Your digital footprint is crucial as it reflects your identity and online presence.
Since it is not possible for any of us to restrict ourselves from using the internet, we have to take extra measures to ensure our online privacy remains intact.