Beware: Do you know who is tracking your digital footprint?
Articles by: Richey May, Oct 26, 2020
As 2020’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to an end, the trail you leave behind on the internet may seem endless. Your digital footprint may be another thing to consider when working from home with personal and work related devices. Our team can assist you as your guide in making sure no one with malicious intentions can follow you on the digital trail you are creating…
What is a Digital Footprint? Your digital footprint is your online identity. It is the personal data you post on social media sites, your searches and browsing history (even in “Incognito mode”), photos, texts, and purchases. All of this data is correlated and indexed in sophisticated matrices to produce metadata which companies can then sell to advertisers to make sure you are served ads relevant to your taste and habits.
Permanence: It is important to remember your digital footprint is permanent. Just like your Tweets and Instagram photos, any personal data that is on the internet is permanent. While you can reduce your digital footprint by deleting information you have posted, you can never completely remove your online identity; there are always backups and copies of everything, even the things you delete.
Risks: The trail you leave behind as you traverse the internet is probably not as private as you may think. Data is valuable to organizations in many different industries, including marketing/advertising, government, law enforcement, and potential employers. Your online data is searched, collected, and monetized by hundreds of third-party companies, making it significantly easier to access by hackers who can then use it to guess your passwords and security questions, or target you for scams in a variety of formats. Your digital footprint establishes a publicly accessible portrait of who you are, and that reputation could be positive or negative depending on the data trail in your wake.
Reducing your digital footprint: You can never erase your digital footprint entirely, but there are some things you can do to reduce it.
1) Check privacy settings on sites you interact with by uploading photos, posting comments, or even just clicking a “like” or “upvote” button; make sure those settings limit the sharing and public exposure of your data as much as possible.
2) When creating accounts, use false information that cannot be easily tied to you. Obviously this is not always feasible if the account will be used for purchases or professional use, but many sites require account creation to remember your preferences and having your real identity tied to it is not important.
3) Use anonymous connection services and tools such as Tor or a private VPN to conceal your public IP address, which can be used to find a wealth of information tied to your digital footprint. *Note: it is typical (and a recommended best-practice) to not allow anonymous connection services through a corporate firewall. If you connect to your employer’s network when working from home, do not be surprised to find these services will not work properly.
4) Use a search engine such as Google or haveibeenpwned.com to discover your digital footprint. This will give you an idea of how much of your data is on the internet and publicly available, and will give you a good place to start deleting data if possible.
Our Technology Solutions team can help you protect your data and reduce your digital footprint, while you do what you do best: keep your company running through whatever comes in 2021 and beyond. Talk to us today to learn more about our comprehensive cybersecurity services.