Just like you leave footprints behind when walking along a sandy beach, you leave a trail behind when you’re online too. Whether we want to or not, we leave pieces of data behind, which imprints a picture of who we really are.
These footprints help companies to target specific content to specific consumers, helps employers to run background checks of their employees and target advertisements depending on user needs. Everything you do online will leave some kind of trail behind.
Even though it’s not possible to have a zero digital footprint, you can definitely limit your traces if you know how they are left behind.
Usually, folks are either unaware of what a digital footprint is or are concerned about their digital footprint. This blog tackles both, providing useful information to ensure you thoroughly grasp it and understand how to handle it more effectively. By the end of this blog, you’ll know ‘what is a digital footprint & how to keep yourself safe.’
What is a Digital Footprint?
We've all encountered the phrase "digital footprints," but do we truly know what it means? It is critical that guardians and teachers learn what these are so that they can guide the kids and assist them in realizing the hazards they may be putting themselves in, while sharing data online or merely browsing through websites. To be honest, everyone who is on the web should be aware of what they are leaving behind.
A digital footprint is an information that people leave behind when they go on the internet. A digital footprint is a data that can be traced back to your internet activity. Your digital footprint is one-of-a-kind, and it comprises all digital conversations and activities that you engage in. This contains the info you provide to websites, your emails, and the web pages you create.
Everything we do on the net leaves a trace of info behind us that others may use to identify what we would be keen on purchasing or for other less savoury objectives such as attempting to hack into our digital accounts and obtain passwords, etc.
A post on social media such as Instagram or Linkedin is an instance of a digital footprint. That post will now be added to your digital path. As you engage more online, your trail expands. For instance, when you browse a site or submit an online form. If we accidentally provide a plethora of info about ourselves behind, it might be passively or deliberately gathered by others employing a basic search engine.
The digital trail we leave after visiting websites are generally referred to as "cookies," and even most sites will require your permission to allow the usage of cookies prior to your visit to the site, even if you have no idea what this indicates. And most of us accept these cookies without completely understanding what they are and what they can do.
Employers are increasingly “cyber vetting” potential employees depending on their internet activities. The police can also utilize digital footprints to acquire data about people to assist them in conducting their investigations.
Social media platforms may convey a detailed image of a person's life. These sites may permit digital tracing details, such as which social groups they adhere to, their hobbies, whereabouts, and so on. This data may be collected and analyzed without the consumers being conscious of it.
Types of Digital Footprint
Active and Passive Digital Footprints are the different sorts of Digital Footprints. Both of these are the result of the evaluation you sought.
Active Digital Footprint:
When you engage in conscious internet activities, you leave an active digital footprint. Anything you put on your digital platforms, especially social media sites, is called an active digital footprint.
The same would be true for the login type when you visit a similar page; the inputs you make when signing in comprise your active digital footprint.
Passive Digital Footprint:
Passive digital footprints, on the other hand, are those that you unknowingly leave behind. You have no idea what you're leaving behind, but you do!
It occurs when sites that need data and are often visited accumulate a passive digital footprint. You hardly do that on purpose; it all happens inadvertently since you never consented to share the info. This procedure begins as soon as your device's IP address connects to that website.
What is the relevance of a digital footprint?
Well, there’s a positive aspect of Digital Footprints too. Everything, after all, has both benefits and drawbacks. A digital footprint is crucial because it defines who you are in the digital world. It is a representation of your personality and style that influences things like employment opportunities, relationships, or anything else that assesses you.
Since we are spending more time online, it makes more sense to exhibit similarities to how we express ourselves offline. Just as it is difficult to correct major errors offline, it is also tough to do so online. Remember this while sending emails, chatting on media platforms, or writing blogs.
Are our digital footprints irreversible?
Indeed, our digital footprint is irreversible. Every action we perform online is saved indefinitely. Even if we remove a post, what we wrote is still stored. This occurs due to the ease with which data may be preserved instead of erased.
So, how much secrecy and privacy do we truly possess?
Digital footprints, comprising metadata and content, have an influence on security, privacy, and trust. As the internet continues to expand, it is quite necessary to consider what will occur to the rights of the images you possess and the material you create. Note that what happens on the internet generally remains there, and even if you remove posts, there'll be a trail of information left forever.
How can we keep ourselves safe?
This probably sparks worry and negative thoughts in a lot of people. Well, we’ve all made mistakes. But there are several ways through which you may save yourself. Have you ever explored the many alternatives for minimizing your digital footprint? If you haven't already, you must. Here are some of the finest tactics that will motivate you to think about what you should do prior to leaving a digital trail:
Be Triple Sure
On social media websites, a privacy option is essential. You communicate with individuals through social media sites. Privacy settings are in your control - they are basically configured how you need them to be.
The most common purpose of social networking sites is to interact with people — friends, family, or even strangers – in order to expand one's network. The easy use of your crucial data might be a compromising element.
The data you gave must be protected in some manner so that it does not become public. People advocate conducting a double-check, but we like to triple-check all of the settings you've established.
Make it very apparent that all of the information you have given must be available to those who are acquainted and associated with you. It should never be in the clutches of strangers.
Passwords are the key
Make certain that the credentials you pick for your social media accounts are strong, reliable, and unforgettable. Not only the initial time but every time you switch or change to a digital platform.
Again, you are in control of generating or changing a passcode. Every day, more than 500,000 passwords are stolen, and more than 1 billion accounts on various platforms are hacked, according to estimates.
Your passcode must be one-of-a-kind and effortlessly memorized. If you use characters such as 'abcdef' or 'Dev56789,' for instance, your account and password are more likely to be compromised.
As many as 51% of all users set passwords for both work and personal sites. So, if it is too simple to break, not only your personal data but also your professional data are at risk of being leaked.
Keep it memorable and simple to recollect and memorise by using at least 8-12 characters with uppercase and lowercase letters. As per statistics, approximately 53% of people depend on their memory to maintain passwords.
Upgrade and Update
Another method for successfully removing the remaining digital trace is a software upgrade. There is a lot of software out there that is constantly upgrading and monitoring the digital footprints you generate.
The concern now is, how can this scenario be dealt with? To deal with it, you'll need an antivirus program that can operate on a variety of platforms.
Running automatic upgrades and antivirus software will keep you up to date. If you do not practice or apply this, your system will be exposed to hacker attacks.
Focus on the Phone
Another extremely common issue is that most individuals lose or forget their smartphones. The best way to ensure that your data or information is not compromised is to have security measures on your mobile.
A thorough review is also very crucial. If you examine the applications that you do not really operate on your mobile, you may uninstall them, and if your phone is stolen or lost, your valuable info isn't exposed, and you're safe from creating a digital footprint.
Before you can use the apps you install on your device, you must first consent to them. They mainly uncover the specifics of where the data can be revealed, etc., in that agreement.
Now, if you have simply agreed to the agreement and provided your critical data without exploring further, your digital footprint is at a high threat of being exposed to the public, which you may not want to cope with.
It is critical to understand the conduct of search engines and social media sites. Leaving a digital footprint has another negative effect: when the authorized entity isn't you, power isn't in your grasp.
In this instance, Facebook has privy to even scraps of information to gauge, interpret, and identify behaviour and build marketing demographics.
It usually occurs when you click on Facebook ads and a little of your personal information is revealed. As a result, restricting data even on the most widely used social media platform can help to reduce digital footprints.
Secrecy comes first
Breaching becomes simpler as technology develops. You do, however, have the option of modifying your browser's preferences. If you utilize this approach, you may simply visit websites without leaving traces. You will obtain authority when the activities become confidential.
This approach may assist in reducing the danger of leaving digital fingerprints, but it does not keep everything undetectable.
Another step in erasing digital footprints is to deactivate outdated email accounts. You must modify or deactivate the email address you established in the formative days of digitalism.
You may have provided all of the essential data even without thinking about it because you were new to digitalism. Now that you've learned about the potential risks posed by digital footprints, you're ready to go on to the next step.
Try multiple search engines and feed in your name, be sure to include your first and last name. If you appear in the top searches on the Search Engines Result Pages (SERPs), then go to the website's operating administrator and request your name to be removed.
You may also set up Google Alerts to assist you in keeping track of your name. If you set up Google Alerts, you'll be notified whenever your name appears or matches elsewhere.
You may not realize it, but numerous white pages providers and real estate companies have access to considerably more data about you than you ever provided. Your email address, contact details, and, in certain cases, residence addresses are all readily available. You may just go to the site and request that your information be removed.
Give it Space
You may agree to numerous mailing lists while purchasing online, ordering meals, or even enjoying streaming content. These email lists just demand a few pieces of information in order to gain access to a larger picture.
If you mistakenly did so in the past, now is the time to reconsider and withdraw from any sites that need even the tiniest amount of data and are unrelated to you.
Furthermore, the internet is littered with ridiculous surveys. Games, forms, and even individuals ask for stupid random surveys in which we unknowingly demonstrate our readiness to promote the campaign or fill out the form to gain access to the game or join the group by filling out the form.
This is yet another unlawful conduct to add to the list. With these pointless surveys that are of no use to us, we will leave more digital footprints.
Go for VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a program or tool that creates a private network from a public connection to provide privacy or secrecy. This security firewall adds an extra degree of protection against all types of security breaches.
You may decrease the danger of being tracked down by websites by utilizing a virtual private network. So, how does VPN protection work?
It functions by disguising your IP address, increasing the level of protection and making your online activities nearly anonymous. There are several VPN service providers on the market. Choose the finest option that meets your needs and is within your budget. VPN Surf has been getting quite a good appreciation in serving their customers with all required online privacy and security at a very low price. You can have a look.
In the new age of digitalisation, one needs to proceed with a lot of caution. The usage of the internet and social media should be approached with caution. You are on the verge of being exposed to hidden risks in your digital footprints if you are not vigilant or aware.
You learned about Digital Footprint and how to protect yourself from it. Share it with your friends and family to make them aware of the various threats that can publicize their precious data and help them secure themselves. Stay connected for more such guides.
Do you value your privacy online?
Use VPN Surf and surf safely and securely in the open waters of the internet.