- Digital

PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT 101

Whenever you do activities online, like posting on social media, logging into websites, or sharing online content, you progressively create your digital footprint. The websites you visit collect data about you through cookies. When you share information on the internet, you are creating your digital footprint. Your digital footprint includes your login details, IP address, content you share online, history of online shopping, your comments on news, articles, and other online activities.

By identifying your digital footprint, you can take extraordinary measures to contain it and protect your identity and reputation. There are two types of digital footprint depending on how your online information is collected online. One of them is the active digital footprint that you create when you intentionally share your information online. For instance, when commenting on social media posts, signing up for accounts, agreeing to install website cookies or activities, you do online when logged in to your details. 

On the other hand, a passive online footprint occurs without your knowledge. For instance, websites that detect your IP address when you visit intend to know your location and do so without your knowledge, thus collecting your digital footprint. Other ways in which passive digital footprint occurs include when websites install cookies without informing you and advertisers who use your social medial likes and shares to profile you and deliver ads based on your interests.

It is very beneficial to have a positive digital footprint. When someone searches your name on the internet, your digital footprint comes up in the results. A negative digital footprint could be detrimental to your school, work, career, and law enforcers who can use it for character evaluation. However, you can adopt several practices to protect your online footprint. Let’s look at them.

Encrypt your communication

As you browse online through an unencrypted network, you go around leaving your identity trails, which websites and advertisers can use for their benefit. For instance, an online shopping company can track your online history and sites visited to profile you and serve ads or emails based on your interests. That makes your details and data susceptible to malicious parties and hackers who may use it to compromise your online accounts. But, you can buy a VPN to encrypt your browsing network and prevent anyone from accessing your online history and activities. A VPN prevents websites from installing cookies that collect your browsing information. It also protects your IP address in a way that your online activities are untraceable. It provides online privacy by encrypting your network.

Update your software regularly.

Hackers and cybercriminals can exploit your data through vulnerabilities in the software. Many software viruses, including malware programs, are used to extract your data and track your digital footprint, which is dangerous as it exposes your accounts to hacking. You never know which one of your accounts is compromised, and it could be your financial or health account. Old software is susceptible to hackers. Avoid that by always updating your software to eliminate malware and viruses. Also, use a legitimate antivirus in your devices that detects and removes viruses.

Create strong and unique passwords

Hackers try different ways to Crack passwords, including guesswork. When your password is compromised, you can lose your account, not to mention the funds you would lose if one of your financial account’s passwords were compromised. However, you can avoid that by using strong and unique passwords. Avoid using simple names, popular options such as birthdates, pet names, spouse names, etc. Mix up letters on the keyboard (caps, small letters, numbers, and symbols) to develop a unique password. If you fear forgetting your passwords, a password manager comes in handy.

Check privacy settings carefully.

Many online accounts such as Facebook have privacy settings that allow you to control who can see your posts and who cannot see them. Do not go around clicking in every privacy setting, assuming that you are free to share anything you want without being traced. Many of these privacy settings only protect you on the social media site that uses them and not anywhere else on the internet. A negative online reputation is unhealthy for your career or school. Avoid that by double-checking privacy settings to know if you are secure.

Review your mobile use

Always review your mobile use by changing passwords, deleting old accounts, and unsubscribing to no longer useful newsletters. Check the settings on the apps and update them. In the case your phone gets lost, you will be safe, and you can avoid a data breach. Please read terms and conditions carefully before installing an app, as they also collect your digital footprint.

Build a positive online reputation

Build a positive online reputation by being ethical as you browse on the internet. Avoid negative comments, sharing questionable content on social media, and if you see a negative thing about you, ask the site administrator to pull it down. Build a positive online reputation through the right online practices.

conclusion

Your digital footprint says more about you, and you should do everything you can to safeguard it. Limit the information you share online and protect the little that you share.