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How to Secure your Digital Footprints? Techmantle Special Edition – 1

Digital Footprints are generated by the information we share online. It is very important that we know how to secure our information online.

Digital Footprints can be active or passive.

Digital footprint or digital shadow refers to one’s unique set of traceable digital activities, actions, contributions, and communications manifested on the Internet or on digital devices.

The use of a digital footprint has both positive and negative consequences.

On one hand, it is the subject of many privacy issues.[7] For example, without an individual’s authorization, strangers are able to piece together information about that individual by simply using search engines, and corporations are also able to produce customized ads based on browsing history. 

On the other hand, others can reap the benefits by profiting off their digital footprint as social media influencers. Furthermore, employers use a candidate’s digital footprint for online vetting and assessing fit due to its reduced cost and accessibility—between two equal candidates, a candidate with a positive digital footprint may have an advantage. 

As technology usage becomes more widespread, even children are generating larger digital footprints with potential positive and negative consequences such as college admissions. Since it is hard to not have a digital footprint, it is in one’s best interest to create a positive one.  

Types of Digital Footprints

Passive digital footprints can be stored in many ways depending on the situation. In an online environment, a footprint may be stored in an online database as a “hit”. This footprint may track the user’s IP address, when it was created, and where it came from; with the footprint later being analyzed. In an offline environment, a footprint may be stored in files, which can be accessed by administrators to view the actions performed on the machine, without seeing who performed them.

Active digital footprints can also be stored in many ways depending on the situation. In an online environment, a footprint can be stored by a user being logged into a site when making a post or change, with the registered name being connected to the edit. In an offline environment, a footprint may be stored in files, when the owner of the computer uses a keylogger, so logs can show the actions performed on the machine, and who performed them. One feature of the keylogger monitors the clipboard for any changes. This may be problematic as the user may copy passwords or take screenshots of sensitive information which is then logged.

Privacy issues

Digital footprints are not a digital identity or passport, but the content and meta data collected impacts internet privacytrustsecurity, digital reputation, and recommendation. As the digital world expands and integrates with more aspects of life, ownership and rights with regard to data become important. 

Effects on workforce

As technology becomes ubiquitous, an increasing number of employers are also evaluating applicants by their digital footprint through their interaction on social media due to its reduced cost and easy accessibility[25] during the hiring process. By using such resources, employers are able to gain more insight into candidates beyond their well-scripted interview responses and perfected resumes.

Build a positive digital footprint

  • Research yourself
  • Think before posting
  • Highlight attractive traits and qualities

Here are few ways to check your digital footprints.

6 steps for protecting your digital footprint

  1. Enter your name into several search engines. …
  2. Double-check your privacy settings, but don’t trust them. …
  3. Create strong, memorable passwords. …
  4. Keep all your software up to date. …
  5. Review your mobile use. …
  6. Build your reputation through your behavior.

Some more to be added to the list.

  1. Be cautious while on public Wi-Fi by disabling sharing, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), and enabling a firewall.
  2. Avoid using publicly-available USB ports and plug-in your own charger. Our devices are configured to transfer/sync data when directly connected to USB ports, making them more susceptible to data theft.
  3. Use a password manager instead of trying to remember various passwords. A password manager is a piece of software that uses one tough-to-memorize (but tough-to-crack) password to store all your other passwords. As you navigate the web, you only have to memorize one password and your password manager will do the rest.
  4. Use two-step login, especially for important personal accounts, such as email and online banking. Two-step login is when you configure your account to enter a one-time code in addition to your password. This code can be retrieved via text message, standalone token, or an app on your phone.
  5. Make sure HTTPS is enabled by looking for the green lock in your URL bar when browsing the web. HTTPS encrypts your data as it travels to and from the website you’re visiting to ensure it remains private. You can consider installing the HTTPS Everywhere extension for your web browser.
  6. Use VPN, Tor, or similar tools to help protect your online activity. These tools serve as protective layers by routing your traffic through multiple computers, making it difficult to trace your digital footprint and enhancing your safety online.
  7. Update your software frequently, as updates are vital for your computer performance and, more importantly, for your safety against cyber attacks and malicious threats.
  8. Password-protect and/or encrypt your devices, assuring that even if your device is lost (or worse yet, stolen), your information is secure.
  9. Back up your data on external devices or a cloud platform. A cyber attacker could compromise your computer’s operating system or your data may be wiped out by a hardware failure, corrupting your personal information. Back up important data to preserve your valuable digital assets in case of an emergency.
  10. Put stickers on your laptop to improve its security. It might sound silly, but if your laptop is taken for inspection at international customs, stickers make it difficult for someone to transfer your information to a new computer and give you back a familiar but different laptop, infested with malware.
  11. The trouble is that cybercriminals can make use of your digital footprint, too. They can use it for purposes such as phishing for account access or creating synthetic identities based on your data.
  12. Beware what you share
  13. Avoid unsafe websites
  14. Be cautious on public networks
  15. Delete what you don’t need
  16. Stay up to date
  17. Use an identity protection service

Here we leave you with Must watch video from Ted-X

Pro Tips from TechMantle

  1. Never Post personal information online until absolutely necessary.
  2. Never use the same password for multiple sites
  3. Try to keep your social profile private
  4. Hackers use people’s profile to hack the companies they work for
  5. If not required do not post job status on social media
  6. Keep a special eyes on your emails, Hackers use publicly available information and request for fake bank wire transfers.
  7. Always keep your password very strong, use different passwords for different websites.
  8. Educate your employees about Digital Footprint and their implications on their lives.

Abhishek Shah

Journalist at TechMantle Technology Writer, Entrepreneurship, Business, IoT, Management

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