Just about everything that you do online leaves behind a trail. This trail is known as your digital footprint.
Whether you buy something from an online store, write a post for your blog, or leave a comment on someone’s social networking profile, this record can provide a lot of information about you.
If you aren’t careful about managing your digital footprint, it could wind up coming back to haunt you.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can clean up the trail that you leave behind so that any information can’t cause problems for you in the future.
1. Begin By Doing Research
Before you can effectively take control of your digital footprint you need to know what information is already out there. Spend some time searching online for your name and contact details to see what type of information comes up. Remember, anyone out there can do the same. If you can see the information online, so can they.
If you don’t find any results that reflect poorly on you, you should feel lucky. If, however, you do find some negative listings, you should ask to have them removed. Don’t forget to block public access to your social media accounts as well.
2. Take Control Of Your Privacy On Social Media
If you are like most people, you probably post some things on social media that you wouldn’t want your boss, a close family member, or a prospective loan provider to see. It is important to make sure that all of your posts are private so that only the people that they were intended for can see them.
Periodically review the privacy settings on your social media accounts. A lot of times, social networks will update their privacy practices without notifying users. Posts that were once private can suddenly become public, leaving you exposed. The best option, however, is to avoid posting anything on social media that could wind up embarrassing you. There is no way to ensure that an embarrassing picture, post, or video won’t fall into the wrong hands.
3. Use The Latest Software
Viruses are notorious for stealing your data and distributing it to others. To prevent this from happening, you need to use a current antivirus program.
Additionally, you should consider taking advantage of the extra security provided by a virtual private network. Always make sure that your software and operating system have the latest updates and security fixes.
4. Choose Your Passwords Wisely
Your passwords should be extremely strong so that they are much more difficult for someone to break.
They should include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using passwords that someone could guess if they know you or did research on you.
There are a lot of programs out there that you can use to generate incredibly strong passwords that will provide you with the protection that you need.
5. Consider Separating Your Online Activities
One way to protect yourself is by using separate credit cards or email accounts for different activities online. For instance, you may want to designate one credit card that you use for making all of your online purchases. Then, if the information from the card falls into the wrong hands, you only have one card to deal with rather than many.
In terms of email, you may want to set up separate email accounts for work activities, family communications, and online mailing lists. That way, you can gain better control over your information.
6. Only Install Apps That You Actually Use
Apps can gather a surprising amount of information about you and the activities that you take part in. Although most apps do have the ability to control your privacy settings, it is hard to know for sure what type of information they are actually gathering.
The best way to control this situation is by deleting any apps that you don’t use on a regular basis. Not only can this help protect your privacy but it can also give you additional storage space that you can use for other information.
7. Keep Track Of Your Cookies
Cookies are used by websites to keep track of information about you. You can see a listing of all of the sites that have active cookies by checking your browser settings.
If you see any strange sites in the list that you don’t recognize, you can delete them. You may even want to see if you can block the site from sending you additional cookies. This is one of the tips from Barclay Simpson on managing your footprint.
8. Understand That There Is No Guaranteed Way To Control Your Data
It is important to keep in mind that there is no way to permanently delete anything that has appeared on the Internet.
Oftentimes, data is stored in behind-the-scenes databases even after you delete it. Think carefully before you post anything online since there is no way to know for sure that the data won’t get spread or fall into the wrong hands after you post it.
Taking control of your digital footprint is essential in this day and age. These tips should help you get started.