In this digital era who doesn’t have a social media account, who doesn’t surf the internet until and unless you are just born but that’s too in some cases someone posts their newly born baby to the internet. Everybody loves to share their happiness, their grief, their every emotion, their visited places and all. You always love to do that but do you know whatever you are sharing is somewhere stored on this Enormous Internet, maybe in some server, in some kind of storage but you never cared until you are a victim of a cybercrime, so have you ever thought how this cybercriminal knows so much information about you? It’s all because of the Digital Footprint you left behind while surfing the Internet. But how your Digital Footprint can be dangerous to you? Before that let’s try to know what is Digital Footprint. In simple language, you can say it as, “A trace of data of a person on the internet because of their online activity.” Let’s try to understand it in a very basic example, suppose you visited a temple on a particular date and you posted on your social media that’s when you left a digital footprint. There can be many other Digital Footprint examples like visiting a website, filling out an online form, etc. Digital Footprint can also be said as Digital Shadow.
So, as you got to know about a basic description of Digital Footprint but are there any types?
Yes, there is, in fact in some cases Digital Footprint acts positively. There are two kinds of Digital Footprint on the internet, one Active and the other Passive. Active Digital Footprint is created when one person deliberately shares data on the internet, he knows what he is sharing like the above example of posting on social media.
Another type is Passive which is you don’t know or you never know what information you are sharing unintentionally on the internet like your Device information, your IP address, your location, etc.
When you create a Digital footprint intentionally or unintentionally it always has a way to collect by interested parties, if someone posts an angering post on Facebook (or any other media) and deletes it after some time by then the damage is already done, within that period someone could have reposted it or took a screenshot. Every post you like, comment or share always leaves a Digital Footprint. So always you should think before contributing to the internet.
Why you should be so concerned about your Digital Footprint?
That’s because Cyber Criminal uses that to trace back to you. Your Digital Footprint says a lot about your behavior like what kind of things you post. Cybercriminals can use your Digital Footprint to steal money from you. Let’s forget criminals for a time being and think about the platform or social media you are using for free; nothing is free but what those platforms are charging from us? A simple answer. “Data or Information” With your data and implementation with their algorithm they prefer what things you should consume; it’s slowly impacting how you do things and ultimately affects your productivity. With your Digital Footprint, you leave behind many types of attacks that can be performed against you which is scary.
Like a coin has two faces Digital Footprint has also two faces i.e., Positive and Negative Impact. The Positive Impact of a Digital Footprint is that your good online reputation can increase the trust of people in you. It can bring Opportunities because of your good online reputation. A positive footprint can also improve the search results people get when they are looking for information about you.
Our Negative Digital Footprint can also affect you; the main concern is about privacy; many people are concerned about their privacy being accessed without their consent. A negative footprint can also compromise your online reputation, which can affect your professional life and relationships. In many cases, Hiring managers do a background check on their potential employers but if you have a Negative Digital footprint, you may not get a job.
Maybe I have scared you a lot but there always comes with remedy or prevention. So, let’s now talk about prevention and how you can protect yourself.
Firstly, always try to use a good VPN to prevent your IP address and location from getting revealed.
Secondly, always be careful and know what you post on the Internet, when you post something remember its’s irreversible, so think before you post.
Thirdly, we should always know some basics of Cybersecurity, to protect ourselves from Cyber Criminal like using Strong Passwords, turning on 2FA, and not clicking unknown links, also You should always avoid Oversharing on the internet.
Now, let’s know how to delete our Digital Footprint, Fact is we can never delete but it can be done to some extent.
Firstly, if you are not using any Social Media Accounts or any website where you logged in, Deactivate and delete your account.
Secondly, Google your name on the internet and see what information it’s viewing. Is there any information of yours that is indexing and you feel like it should not be? If you are viewing such then contact the website or organization administration and ask them to delete it. Certain services help you to protect your Digital Footprint like saymine.org, and bigfoot.ie, privacyfix, etc. This is the most important thing in Digital Footprint.
Thirdly, unsubscribe yourself from the mailing list, if you receive certain emails that you are not aware then always unsubscribe.
Fourthly, delete cookies, which are small files stored in a computer or device to track your online activity and collect information. Deleting cookies can help you in deleting your Digital Footprint.
Fifth, submit a Google Listing removal request, if you find your name or contact information on the internet, you can do using a google listing removal request. One way to prevent this is setting Google alerts so that whenever any information gets indexed in google it will warn you.