As time moves further and further into the digital age, it’s becoming nearly impossible to hide from the prying eyes of the internet. Each day your online activity creates an increasingly clear picture of you, known as your digital footprint.
With this increase in available personal information, it can be tempting to try and erase all traces of yourself from the internet. Unfortunately, once pieces of this online picture have entered the digital landscape, it’s not that easy to simply remove them.
The Dangers of a Detailed Digital Footprint
The advent of social media has made it far more challenging to keep privacy at the forefront. These accounts divulge more information than intended in many cases, as each tiny piece of it can be used as a clue about an individual. Posting on Facebook about a business you just started can lead to an array of personal discoveries like your phone number, address, and more.
Future employers have far more detailed information available to them than what you include on your resume or what they hear from your references. Many prospective jobs will utilize software that analyzes your digital footprint via social media accounts. Yes, this means those pictures of your latest weekend adventures will be made available to the HR department deciding on your future.
Your digital footprint extends beyond what is readily available to a keen internet researcher. Malicious entities can examine more private aspects of your digital traces. A hacker could have access to search results, emails, chat transcripts, and banking information.
Moving Forward with Confidence in Digital Security
Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to erase aspects of your digital footprint that are already imprinted online. However, it is possible to be more mindful moving forward and practice safety measures that can make your future additions to your digital traces minimal. Review these tips and use them to ensure your digital footprint is less revealing moving forward.
Use a Variety of Emails
Many people use the same email address for everything from online banking to job applications. At a minimum, you should have a separate email address for your secure transactions and social media log-ins. Ideally, you should set up an account specifically for job applications, making it more difficult for an employer to research your social media.
Use More Passwords
The old advice of using multiple passwords continues to go unnoticed. This has become even more important with the advent of social media. If someone hacks one of your accounts, the last thing you want them to do is to gain access to everything else you’ve got going online.
For those who think they are unable to memorize so many passwords, there are apps available to manage them. The security of your digital footprint is undoubtedly worth the effort.
Delete Useless Apps
If your Android is cluttered with useless apps, delete them. Many apps collect data in the background, even when not used. Keeping a “clean” mobile phone also helps to identify anything unusual like a malicious app that is hiding a virus.
Update Security Software
Clicking on “Update Later” could be a poor decision for the safety of your digital footprint. Updating your anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer and mobile phone could prevent malicious attacks on your privacy from occurring. Think twice before you put this simple task off again.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Advanced Security
When out and about, a VPN on your iOS or Android mobile phone can be a key piece to the security of your digital footprint. We often connect phones to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, providing an easy gateway for hackers to get to any information sent and received on the connection. A VPN allows you to feel secure, as it encrypts data sent and received to your device.
While it may not be possible to remove all traces of yourself from the internet, it is indeed reasonable to be more cautious moving forward. It can seem challenging to control the information about yourself online, but you can take steps to manage what information is out there. From behavior modification to advanced security features, it is possible to mitigate the risks your digital footprint presents.