TechieClues TechieClues
Updated date Dec 09, 2023
This article explores the concept of a "digital footprint" and its implications for online privacy. It explains that every online action, from website visits to app usage, contributes to a comprehensive online identity.

Introduction:

You've probably come across the term "online footprint" before. But do you understand its implications for your digital privacy? Every website you visit, the app you use, and the form you fill out leaves a trace – or footprint – on the internet. Individually, these actions may not mean much. However, when combined, they create a comprehensive picture of your identity that's available to anyone, from advertisers to scammers.

In other words, companies don't need to listen to your phone. Just by using your devices, shopping, and browsing online, you provide them with all the information they need. So, should you be concerned about the extent of personal information in your online footprint? We will teach you how to protect your digital footprint and ensure your privacy online.

What Is a Digital Footprint?

Your online activities leave behind an online footprint, also known as your "digital footprint" or "digital shadow." It comprises countless data points scattered across various platforms. Your Google searches, Facebook likes, and Amazon purchases contribute to building this footprint.

Individually, these data pieces may seem inconsequential. However, their aggregate reveals an astonishingly accurate depiction of your identity. Virtually everyone who has used the internet possesses an online footprint. If you've ever searched for a product on one site and later encountered ads for the same product elsewhere, you have witnessed the impact of your footprint.

How to Protect Your Digital Footprint?

1. Deactivate Old Email Accounts

Most email accounts become abandoned and idle as time goes by. They contain personal details and sensitive information in old messages. It can be difficult to notice if an email account has been breached when it's not in use. Instead of allowing them to pose a risk, you should delete them altogether to protect yourself.

2. Use a VPN

Any privacy guide should include an explanation of the importance of VPN and this article is no exception. If you use a VPN app for your PC, your traffic is transferred to the remote server in encrypted form. Companies cannot establish a connection between online activities and you. All they can see is that you are transmitting unknown data to the servers, perhaps they know that these servers belong to VPN apps. This depends on whether the IP address is white or grey. If you have a PC VPN download, you can erase your digital footprints. However, even if you download a VPN for a PC, the applications in which you are logged in will identify you. A good VPN, such as VeePN, neutralizes all other tracking attempts.

3. Analyze Your Digital Footprint

You might think it's a bit self-centered to search for yourself online. But it can actually be a helpful way to evaluate the information available about you. Give it a try on different search engines and examine the first few pages of results.

Be ready for some surprises though, as you might uncover alarming details. If you stumble upon sensitive data you'd rather not have exposed, or come across inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate information, take the initiative to contact the site administrator and request removal of the material.

4. Disable Location Tracking

You can receive location-based suggestions for businesses in your area by enabling location tracking. While this feature is convenient, it can pose a security risk if you allow continuous tracking of your location. Make sure you are aware of the apps and services that have access to your location and only enable tracking when using the specific service.

5. Be Cautious With Social Media

If you want to protect your privacy online, it's important to be cautious about the information you choose to disclose, even with stronger privacy settings. Take care when responding to social media surveys as they can reveal personal details.

You may also want to share a photo of your new grandchild on social media. However, it's worth remembering that anything you post online can be reshared by friends, family members, and colleagues without your permission.

6. Secure Your Device

Regularly reviewing your browser privacy and security settings on your devices is essential, just like checking your phone. Take the time to review the Privacy and Cookie settings of new websites you enter. Consider the options of Accepting all cookies, Declining and closing, or Clicking for more information. If a website forces you to accept all cookies without a choice, question their intentions. Can you trust them with your data?

To limit exposure to scams, fraud, and data breaches, use end-point protection apps on all your electronic devices (computer, laptop, tablet, and phone) when accessing the internet. Install a free extension VPN from a reliable developer to protect yourself from hackers and those who track your activities. Avoid clicking on links in emails, text messages, or websites that raise concerns about their authenticity.

7. Limit Your Online Accounts

When you have numerous online accounts, your digital footprint becomes larger. However, you can quickly reduce your footprint by deleting or deactivating accounts that you no longer require. For instance, do you need multiple email accounts? Additionally, what about that account you opened three years ago with an online retailer that you haven't used since then?

Also, be discerning when opening new accounts. If you have the choice to check out as a guest with a retailer instead of creating an account, it's better to use that option unless you intend to be a frequent customer.

Conclusion

Too late, each of us came to our senses and realized the importance of anonymity on the Internet and protecting our digital footprints. Most likely, you have already inherited a lot, but this is not a reason to refuse protection. It’s better to start today so that tomorrow fewer and fewer companies know about you. You'll thank yourself later.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TechieClues
TechieClues

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