Everything that goes on the internet stays on the internet. Right? Well, kind of.
It is true that demographics, spending habits, personal data, and every account created, email sent, image posted, or location check-in adds layers to your digital footprint. A digital footprint is all that information combined to paint a picture of someone’s interests and routines for marketing companies to use for targeted advertising. However, cybercriminals can also leverage this information for nefarious means – including identity theft.
You must consider all trackable information when determining what might be included in your digital footprint. This extends to what you interact with on social media, order from Amazon, or surveys you take.
With much of our personal and professional lives online, it is difficult to contain the spread of your information. However, general awareness and safeguards can lower your risk and protect your private information from cyber thieves.
Employ secure email services
No matter where you work, you will need to communicate with someone. So, whether that be someone within your network or an outside vendor, using a secure email service provider will keep your email account and the content of your emails safe.
Typically, secure email services include the implementation of end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption means that the email is completely encrypted from the sender’s desktop to the recipients.
In addition, deleting old email accounts is essential when you no longer use those accounts. If cybercriminals gain access to one of your inactive accounts, they would be able to view contacts, search for personal information, or even credibly impersonate you.
Creating an email address with no personal identifying information, specifically for marketing and promotion materials, can be a beneficial way to protect yourself while safely enjoying store discounts.
Remove Yourself from Search Sites
If you search yourself online, you are likely to come across personal information websites that pool together digitally available information about you and offer that information to anyone willing to pay a few bucks.
So, anyone can find the aliases, addresses, telephone numbers, relatives, and other information about you through these online data collectors.
If you become the target of a malware attack, cybercriminals can rapidly spread your personal data, potentially resulting in ongoing harassment that extends beyond the digital.
The easiest way to remove your information is by clicking “opt-out” on the sites claiming to offer access to your personal information. Each has different steps, and there is no shortcut for this process, but proceeding with this formal process will allow for digital peace of mind.
Be Careful with Your Social Media Posts
Removing yourself from the internet entirely is not a reasonable option for most people – especially those that use social media. However, minimizing the information you share and the number of people who have access to that information can go a long way in carefully crafting your secure digital footprint. For example, limiting who can view your information rather than making it public and disabling location tracking can both go a long way.
Don’t forget to deactivate social media accounts that you no longer use immediately.
Be Cautious, Not Fearful
The goal isn’t to completely remove yourself from the internet. Well, it might be. But that’s probably impossible unless you live under a rock. So, the more practical route is to ensure that any information you don’t want to be public, is not made public.