With recent news coming in about the potential Facebook data hacks (overshares, breach of trust, etc.) we thought it was a good time to start talking about the safety of our individual (and business) footprints.
A person’s digital footprint is all of the things they do online, from posting a blog to commenting on social media to buying something from an online business. Your digital footprint can say a lot about you.
It can be used to gather information, compromise your identity and either make or break your reputation. Here are 8 different tips that will help you manage your digital footprint to make certain the tracks you’re leaving aren’t later used against you.
1. Know what’s Out There
You can’t effectively manage your digital footprint if you don’t know what it looks like. Take the time to Google yourself and see what comes up, because you know potential employers, creditors, and even love interests certainly are! See what they can find. Do you see mostly neutral or positive results? If so, your digital footprint is pretty good. But do you see anything negative? If so, take steps to have it removed if you possibly can or, if you control it (such as with social media), remove it yourself or restrict it from public viewing.
2. Make sure your Private Posts are Private
Make sure any posts you wouldn’t want your employer, a lender, or your mother to see are locked down. Some social media sites change their privacy controls from time to time, and when they do, some things slip through. That drunken selfie that was only available to a few close friends may suddenly have become public, so be sure to always double-check the settings. But remember, these settings may not always protect you. What’s private on a social media site may still be accessible to search engines, and once it’s out there, anyone can take that photo, video, or other content and repost it to sites that you have no control over.
3. Keep your Software up to Date
Nothing can destroy your digital footprint more than having a virus steal all of your information and using it to spam others. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your antivirus protection software, VPNS (virtual private networks), malware scanners, and other important programs are up to date. This includes your operating system. Make sure you have downloaded and installed the most recent security patches.
4. Use Strong Passwords
Likewise, you need to make sure your online accounts are secure by using the strongest passwords you can. A good password has the following:
- Capital letters
You want a password that isn’t easy to guess, so avoid common things like family members’ names or birthdates, etc. A good program to use to create and store strong passwords is 1Password.
5. Split your Footprint
Some people are very hesitant to shop online, so they have one dedicated credit card that they only use on the internet. That way, if that card is compromised, it’s the only one they have to cancel. This helps split your digital footprint and make it more manageable. You can do the same with emails—create an email that you only use when you have to sign up for a mailing list, one you only use for work, and one you use for social media. Yes, it might be a pain keeping up with all of these emails, but in the end, it can also make things more compartmentalized and easier to control.
6. Are you Using that App?
Most apps on your smartphone are collecting information about you. While theoretically you can control what these apps have access to, who really knows what an app does once it’s installed? That’s why it’s a good idea to go through your apps and delete any of them that you don’t really use. This way, you know they’re not collecting any information about you, plus it frees up space on your phone for other apps, pictures, etc.
7. Check your Cookies
Did you know you can see what sites your browsers have accepted cookies from? You should check this regularly to see if any strange sites are sending you cookies. If so, you may be able to block them in your browser’s settings. If you can’t, there are a number of different plug-ins available that will help you control cookies better.
8. Know that whatever you put out there is out there
Even if you delete something from the internet, realize that it’s still stored in databases and archives and is likely to be forever. In many cases, even if you’ve deleted it, it can still be accessed. There’s no taking something back once it’s online, so think twice before you click on submit!These are just a few different tips you can use to manage your digital footprint and make sure it doesn’t get out of control. Do you have any tips we’ve forgotten?