How to Check Your Digital Footprint
Posted 29 Sep at 8:31 pm in Productivity
- Google Results About You – a Google-site to find pages that contain your information. They do ask you to fill in a short form though the rest is pretty automated – goo.gle/resultsaboutyou.
- ‘;–have i been pwned? – Have I Been Pwned? is a useful resource for figuring out what sites your information has been compromised on/through.
- Intel Techniques – Intel Techniques is an entire website filled with different guides and tools that can certainly be very useful to those trying to reduce their digital footprint. In particular, tools such as the telephone number search tool and address lookup tool are useful.
Introduction to Checking Your Digital Footprint
Today we are discussing how to check your digital footprint and how to reduce it. Though before we discuss how to check your digital footprint, we must first discuss what it is: your digital footprint is the trail of data that you create throughout your time as a user of the internet. It includes websites you visit, emails you send, the information you submit online, comments you post, and so forth. This footprint can reveal certain characteristics about the individual, things pertaining to likes, dislikes, interests, and more, or it can reveal more personal data such as a person’s email, phone number, family members, and even address.
Understanding the Types of Digital Footprints
1. Passive Digital Footprint
A passive digital footprint is information that is collected without the user inputting any data. This would include things such as log files and browser cookies. Generally, this information is used to enhance the user experience by remembering preferences and behaviors.
2. Active Digital Footprint
When users deliberately share information online, like posting updates on social media, they create an active digital footprint. This footprint consists of data that is intentionally shared, such as social media posts, emails, and uploaded documents. Other contributors to an active digital footprint would include comments, online purchases, and the use of certain applications.
Why Monitoring Your Digital Footprint is Crucial
Keeping track of your digital footprint is a must when maintaining a positive reputation online and when protecting personal information. When left unmonitored, or when information is easier to find online, the higher the likelihood of one’s identity being damaged or stolen.
All information shared online can potentially be exploited by cybercriminals for an array of reasons. This information is not very difficult to find if shared openly.
Aside from the threat posed by cybercriminals, the individual may be their own biggest threat online. It is not uncommon in our world today for employers, universities, and other professional higher-ups, to do a quick search of a person’s name or email address and find out a lot about the subject at hand. This has led to the loss of jobs, scholarships, potential roles, etc. more than once. In fact, digging into someone’s digital footprint before hiring them has become rather common practice in most industries.
How to Check (and Manage) Your Digital Footprint
1. Regularly Google Your Name
Conducting a Google search of your name on a regular basis is a simple first step to monitoring your digital footprint.
A quick search could reveal that very private information may be readily available, to anybody, with a simple search of your name. This information could include things such as your phone number, current address, relatives who live with you, your workplace, and more.
2. Review Social Media Privacy Settings
Ensure that your social media accounts have strict privacy settings. Regularly review and update these settings to control the information that is available publicly. Consider the implications of every post and update shared online.
Be certain that your social media has strict privacy settings. Regularly review these settings to control the information that is available publicly.
Aside from the security side of things, you should also consider what you are posting. Is it ethical? A good general rule of thumb to answer that question is positioning it as “What would your grandmother think if she read/saw your post?” If Gammy is shaking her head, then maybe it’s best to keep it to yourself.
3. Delete Unnecessary Accounts
Over time, we create more accounts than we could ever keep track of. It isn’t uncommon that we also use the same password for these sites, for the sake of remembering for future use.
To find some accounts you’ve signed up for, you can either check your password manager or check your email account settings.
To do so on Gmail:
- Go to your Google Account Settings.
- Click on Security in the menu on the left.
- Scroll to Connected Third-Party Applications and Services.
- Click See All Connections.
- Review the list of websites and revoke access if needed.
4. Use Privacy Tools
Implementing privacy tools like VPNs and secure browsers can help in maintaining online privacy. These tools protect user data from being tracked and collected by third-party entities, thus reducing the passive digital footprint.
There are thousands of VPN and browsing solutions. However, the best solution may vary depending on what you’re focused on.
Some common and respected VPN options would include NordVPN, Surfshark, ProtonVPN, and ExpressVPN. For a more conclusive list, check out this list from C-NET
For browsers that offer heightened security, there are a ton of options through Brave, Firefox, and Ungoogled Chromium are solid starting points.
5. Be Mindful of Sharing Information
Consider the consequences before sharing any information online. Avoid sharing sensitive and personal information that could be exploited. Being mindful of your online actions can significantly reduce the risks associated with a digital footprint.
Regular Auditing of Digital Footprint
Conducting a regular audit of your digital presence is pivotal for maintaining online privacy and security. Regular audits can identify any discrepancies and unauthorized activities associated with your online accounts and presence. By promptly identifying and addressing these issues, you can safeguard against potential threats and maintain a positive online reputation.
Reducing Your Digital Footprint
All-in-all there is no right answer in reducing your digital footprint. Not all information is posted or removed equally. To start, you can look-up what websites your email is associated with. Where have you signed up? What mailing letters are you a part of? Once you track down these sites, you can either log back in and delete the account or reach out to customer support and ask to have the account removed.
To be more thorough in your efforts, we suggest using one of the following:
Google Results About You – a Google-site to find pages that contain your information. They do ask you to fill in a short form though the rest is pretty automated – goo.gle/resultsaboutyou.
‘;–have i been pwned? – Have I Been Pwned? is a useful resource for figuring out what sites your information has been compromised on/through.
Intel Techniques – Intel Techniques is an entire website filled with different guides and tools that can certainly be very useful to those trying to reduce their digital footprint. In particular, tools such as the telephone number search tool and address lookup tool are useful.
After some searching, “how to check your digital footprint” was a commonly asked question. It is a rather simple question with an almost unfair amount of ambiguity surrounding the answer. Managing and checking your digital footprint is indispensable in this digital age. By being cautious and proactive, you can protect your personal information and maintain a positive online presence. Regular audits, mindful sharing of information, and the use of privacy tools are effective strategies in managing your digital footprint successfully.
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