When you walk on mud, you’ll leave footprints of your feet or shoe, and that makes it easier for another person to track your direction. Likewise, when you use the internet to comment on social media platforms, search queries on search engines, email records, Skype calls, and other online involvement leave a digital footprint that has your history. And that can potentially be seen, used, or even tracked by other people.
A digital footprint is a trail you leave behind online about places you visit on websites, social media, or through chats. In other words, it is your online identity that describes you or makes you unique. It creates an impression through any action you take or do online. For instance, many websites leave cookies on your system to track the movement you make from one website to another. When they understand your trail, they target you with adverts showing products you were looking at online.
When you browse online and leave digital footprints without taking care of it after, it leaves your data vulnerable to hackers. Upon acquiring your data, hackers can sell or use that to commit crimes. Sensitive information that hackers are after is Social Security Numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, passwords, date of birth, and financial information.
But, you can learn below detailed ways to protect your digital footprint online and never have to worry about your privacy again.
Be cautious about what you share.
You can control your digital footprint by limiting the stuff you share online, and here are some of the aspects to consider.
Log-in Sharing: Everyday technology is devising ways to make your browsing experience stress-free. However, there are some instances where you need to manually do the process like log-in to websites without using Facebook. Some websites will make the process convenient to you by log-in or sign up using social media to capture your information. Avoid divulging too much information to places you visit online by log-in directly to the site you plan to visit.
Social Media Sharing: The majority of new entrants to social media are not aware of the level of digital footprints they are leaving online. They make it easy for others to access their privy information such as a home address, phone numbers, emails, and more. They also follow, like, or comment about service providers like banks, healthcare, schools, insurances, and others, which give an effortless lead to hackers. You should be very cautious about the kind of information you expose to others.
If you feel it’s too much work clearing your digital footprint, use a VPN whenever you connect to the internet to prevent cybercriminals from prying on your data and activities online. You can learn how to encrypt your data online; read more about what a VPN is here.
Submissions: Some organizations require you to fill forms online by providing personal information and broadening your digital footprints. Some of these organizations may, in one way or another, abuse your data or experience a breach that can place your sensitive information to the wrong hands. Before you quickly provide any data to such organizations or websites, exhaust other avenues to get their services without leaving your data behind.
Never Install Software’s from Unverified Sources
Check the apps and software you download online by making sure they are not from unclear sources. Downloading from risky sites is a potential risk that creates a loophole to your privacy and security of your devices’ data. There are millions of apps and software online designed to locate your movement and harvest that information without requesting your permission.
Always get your phone apps and computer software’s from genuine sources or official stores that you trust. Also, monitor the one you already have and limit the level of access they can access from your device, especially if you don’t need it. Apps asking permission of your location and they are not Google Maps should be denied access. It is advisable to think about permissions that you need to allow when making installations.
Control Your Accounts and Privacy Settings
You need to control the accounts you visit most, and the ones you believe has lots of your digital footprints. Platforms such as Google and Facebook are notorious on the web as they’re the most visited places, leading in users leaving their information open. You need to learn these accounts to understand the level of limitations to put.
Going to settings alter what to share and who should see it to these services may help limit your vulnerability. Exploring more about these accounts and the setting area may help you know the information they collected about you. For example, any visit to Google platform while logged to your Gmail account gathers information about your search history, places you visited, and more. Therefore, armed with such information may help you to tread with caution when accessing your account, sharing, and communication you make online.
Knowing the risks of leaving digital footprints unattended may help you reduce and protect your activities online. You cannot completely erase all your digital footprints, but the above information can help you prevent leaking sensitive data out there to the wrong hands.