Your digital footprint is always growing, so how can you keep it under control?
Because we’re so much more connected than we used to be, our digital footprint is vulnerable because of potential employers, recruiters, law enforcement, and online banking, shopping, and more. When you visit a website, the website logs your IP address. When you comment on a website, add a comment to your retweet, like a post, participate in a forum, or add a photo to your Instagram, you are creating more data online. Your digital footprint can have a significant effect on your future. Even though there is some anonymity on the Internet, your name is out there, and it may be linked to information that you do not want shared or openly available. It’s always best to be more careful about what we say, do, and share online to mitigate identity theft risk and keep a positive online profile. Here’s how you can take control of your digital footprint.
Investigate your online activities
Your digital footprint includes all of the things you leave behind when you use the internet. App use, emails, Skype calls, online shopping, comments on social media and yes, all those cookies that track what sites you visit and what you have done on those sites. For this reason, it is important that you investigate your overall digital image. Create a list of all the websites online you use repeatedly.
- Consider all of the content you post and think about how others might perceive your posts.
- Use one or more search engines to search on your name. Use variations of your name such as full name with middle initial, without a middle initial, married names, maiden names etc. Look at the results that get pulled up. You may find some surprising information surface.
Amp up your privacy settings
Don’t just click “I agree”
Read the terms and conditions of any photo or content sharing sites. Some sites require you to license the material to the site, which might mean that you lose control over your content. It’s easy to just hit “I agree” but if you’re unfamiliar with any site’s terms of service, you’re opening yourself up to some unwanted surprises.
Clean up your digital footprint
Be sure you’re only posting things online that you wouldn’t mind others finding. If you post anything online that seedy or undesirable, it might come back to haunt you someday.
Change your passwords. While it can be helpful to have the same password for many different sites, this isn’t good practice. Instead, make your password different on each platform you use. This way, if a hacker figures out one of your passwords, they won’t gain access to all of your accounts.
Most importantly, do not give away your personal information too quickly. Consider the reputation of sites before you give them information, and be sure to be wary if a website wants to know too much about you.
Many Internet users haven’t done much to protect themselves online, but you don’t have to be one of them. Understand your digital footprint and why it matters to your security online.
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