The Data Blog
Tracing Your Digital Footprint
Anything and everything can be found online these days; contact information, news articles, pictures of pets and families. All of this is the digital footprint you leave behind from visiting, creating accounts on, and posting on different types of websites, whether it be an online retail service, a social media website, or a subscription to an online blog or magazine.
Simply put, your digital footprint is what you leave behind, a trail or record of some sort, every time you interact with a new website. It's easier to trace when you engage with a website like leaving a review for a product you buy, posting a status on Twitter, liking a YouTube video, or being tagged in a picture on Facebook. However, did you know your digital footprint doesn't just consist of the actions you perform on websites, but the way you browse them too?
For example, simply creating an account can be enough to trace something back to you via your digital footprint. Contact information of some sort can be found and traced back to you through accounts on many websites on the internet and what seemed like just giving away your email address leads many to now have more personal information such as your name, social media accounts, and anything that can be found on them.
Furthermore, hackers or anyone advanced enough to perform cyber attacks are able to steal and manipulate your browser cookies; cookies are normally used by websites to remember user information via their digital footprint, but if they get into the wrong hands, can be used by others to obtain your personal data such as browsing history and sensitive information like your account logins or even financial information.
So how do you limit your digital footprint? By being aware of the trail you leave; fortunately, many websites let you know if they're using cookies and you can easily opt out so your data isn't affected by the website. This will make it so you aren't profiled or 'tracked' by using the website, so you'll also see less advertisements pertaining to the data on the website you disabled cookies on. Additionally, by keeping any social media accounts and information private, or deleting them in general and keeping your internet connection secure, meaning on a private server or ethernet rather than public WI-FI, it gets harder for anyone to tap into your personal information and trace your digital footprint back to you.
While there is no perfect way to disable your digital footprint as just about everything is online these days, you may find it's quite manageable to keep your information private and secure so that your data doesn't end up falling into the wrong hands.
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