Protecting Your Digital Footprint – The Safe Info Guide

Your digital footprint is all of the information that tech companies, advertisers, and data aggregators have about you. This can include everything from your email account to your seemingly private messaging apps.

Having a digital footprint isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s important to be aware of what your online footprint looks like and how you can protect it.

1. Use Strong Passwords

A digital footprint is the trail of data that’s left behind when you go online. It’s everything from social media posts to your browsing history. Digital footprints can be good or bad. Employers and universities check digital footprints, especially on social media, before making hiring or acceptance decisions. Words and photos that are meant for a private group can be misinterpreted or spread to a much larger audience. Cybercriminals can use your digital footprint to phish for account access or create fake identities.

2. Change Your Passwords Regularly

Every time you interact with the Internet, you leave a trail of information behind. That trail, called your digital footprint, is accessible to anyone who wants it.

It can be created actively – through posting on social media, subscribing to a newsletter or shopping online – or passively, such as by browsing websites over public Wi-Fi (e.g. at an airport or coffee shop).

It’s generally accepted that changing your passwords regularly helps to protect your digital footprint. But is it actually effective?

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3. Create a Strong Password

A sound password can be the difference between a secure digital footprint and an overexposed one. Hackers can easily crack weak passwords, especially those that are outdated.

Think of your digital footprint as your trail of breadcrumbs you leave behind when you use the Internet. Everything you do online leaves a digital footprint, including social media posts, shopping data and web browsing history. These traces can be used to trace you, so it’s important to protect your digital footprint.

4. Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Your digital footprint includes every online activity you engage in. This includes everything from your search history to the likes and comments you make on social media.

There are two types of digital footprints: active and passive. Active footprints are those you create on purpose, such as when you post something on Facebook or buy a product on Amazon.

Passive footprints, on the other hand, are those that are collected without you knowing it, such as your website search history or IP address. These can be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity and commit fraud.

5. Change Your Passwords Often

Like footprints in snow or sand, every online activity leaves behind a digital trail that others can see. Your online footprint includes everything from status updates to emails and private messages.

Passive data is added to your footprint as you browse the internet, including search history – even what you click on – and browsing habits. This data can be used by data aggregators, marketers, and even hackers to target you with ads and scams.

The best way to protect your digital footprint is by changing passwords often. Tech experts recommend changing your passwords every three months.

6. Set Up Two-Step Verification

Every action you make online leaves a digital footprint. Like footprints in the sand, these can paint a vivid picture of your identity for anyone who looks.

Your digital footprint includes active information (like everything you do) as well as passive information that can be found on your device or stored in backups, on other people’s devices and in old file formats.

Two-step verification adds a second layer of protection to your account. It requires a one-time verification code sent to your registered phone or email address in addition to your password.

7. Change Your Passwords Often

Like footprints in snow or sand, digital footprints show others where you have been online. This information can be used for marketing purposes, but it can also be exploited by cybercriminals to launch attacks.

The most effective way to reduce your digital footprint is to change passwords frequently. This can be a time-consuming task, but it is an essential safety precaution to protect your accounts from hackers. It’s recommended to do this every three months or so.

8. Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers to access a person’s devices and online accounts. If a hacker steals a password from the victim, they still won’t be able to gain access without also possessing the second verification method, such as a phone or authenticator app.

Facebook offers SMS 2FA for its accounts and allows users to connect with third-party authentication apps for additional security. 2FA protects against phishing attacks, malware attachments, and open wifi networks that could allow hackers to intercept login codes.