“Digital footprint” is a term used to describe someone’s online presence. Over the past few years, there have been a multiple of reports which suggest a link between digital footprints and Internet security risks. The list of content available online is seemingly endless. This gives the average person the ability to quickly amass a large digital footprint and be exposed to multiple Internet security threats.
What is Digital Footprint?
The first step is understanding exactly what a digital footprint is. In the most general terms, it refers to the total amount of content on the Internet which is associated with a specific individual. Since it is online, anyone has the ability to find it with a quick search. Some of the most common content associated with the average person includes family videos on video sharing sites, comments on the news, blogs, and social media, photos of friends and family, and daily social media interaction. All of this information can create an internet security risk if it falls into the wrong hands.
What is Internet Security?
Internet security encompasses a variety of protection techniques which have been developed to prevent any threat associated with the Internet. These threats include everything, ranging from viruses to complex social engineering schemes. In relation to a person’s digital footprint, the most common Internet security threats result in data theft. The more available online information about someone, the easier it is for hackers and identity thieves to crack passwords and take over personal accounts.
3 Steps to Managing a Digital Footprint and Reducing Internet Security Risks
The first step in managing a digital footprint and minimizing the related Internet security threats is by understanding how large the footprint actually is. The best place to get started is by making a list of all of the social networking sites and personal accounts a person has signed up for. Included in this list should be the name of the website, user names, aliases, and passwords. Once this list has been compiled, do a quick search on multiple search engines to ensure the entire footprint has been mapped out.
Clean Up the Current Digital Footprint
Once the digital footprint has been mapped out, it is time to take proactive steps to get it under control and address current internet security risks. The easiest way to clean up a digital footprint includes removing photos, content, and the links which are either inappropriate or reveal too much personal information. Another important step is minimizing the access other people have to personal information. For example, on social media sites the best solution is taking advantage of the block comments feature as well as setting the user profile to ‘private’.
Manage Interactions with Others
The final step is taking a look at how a person interacts with others. It is important to become more selective about the platforms a person participates in. Certain codes of conduct should also be put into practice, such as minimizing or eliminating references to places of employment, job functions, and sensitive personal information. This minimizes the exposure of Internet security threats.
About the Author: Ted Legg is a writer with an interest in various internet services and technologies such as VPNs for China. His articles provide information on online security, privacy, and freedom.