Your digital footprint could make or break critical aspects of your life from getting into college to landing a new job. It’s important to clean up your digital footprint so that it doesn’t negatively impact you. You can clean up your digital footprint by deleting any accounts you don’t use anymore, not sharing personal information on social media and by using a password manager.
Read on to learn more about digital footprints and what you can do to keep yours clean.
A digital footprint is the existence of your information on the internet as a result of your online activity. There are two types of digital footprints, passive and active. A passive digital footprint is made by information being collected without your awareness, such as when a site tracks your IP address or approximate location. An active digital footprint is when you purposefully share information online, such as posting on social media or agreeing to accept cookies on your device.
If you’ve ever been online, then you have a digital footprint, so it’s critical that you take the necessary steps to keep the footprint you’re leaving behind clean.
Cleaning your digital footprint can be tedious, especially if you were unaware you even had one. Follow these steps to check up on your digital footprint and clean it up.
Step 1: Google yourself
The first step you should take in cleaning your digital footprint is searching your name. By googling your own name, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of others who may search for you online. This step gives you a clear look at what may be associated with your name and what cybercriminals can use against you if you were to become a target.
Searching for yourself also allows you to see what information about you is available as public data. Having your data online, such as your phone number and home address, can be a major security risk. If you notice that your data is available to the public, contact the websites where your data appears and request to have your information removed.
Step 2: Delete and deactivate any accounts you don’t use anymore
The rapid growth of the internet over the past 20 years has led to endless account sign-ups for different websites and subscription services. Little did we know that this could cause harm in the future. This has led many people to create new accounts that they’ll never use again.
Constant creation of new accounts is a dangerous practice because it requires you to create new logins each time. New logins means creating new passwords, which should always be strong and different for every single account. However, since people have trouble remembering unique passwords for everything, many people reuse passwords across multiple accounts or use weak passwords that are easily compromised.
In order to delete or deactivate accounts you don’t use anymore, you should gather a list of the accounts you’ve created. If you’re someone who uses their browser password manager, you can see which sites you’ve made logins for by opening up your password manager. After making a list of the accounts you no longer use, delete or deactivate them. You should also switch to a password manager that isn’t on your browser, because they’re not as secure as you may think. Learn how to disable your browser’s password manager.
It’s always tempting to share everything online, but oversharing on social media places your information at risk of being used against you. It can also put your reputation at risk. Always think before you post so that nothing can be used against you. You might even consider going through your social media accounts and archiving or deleting posts that could negatively impact you. Keeping a clean digital footprint means being cautious about what you share.
Step 4: Adjust your privacy settings
Many of us don’t realize the settings on our devices are automatically configured to the least amount of privacy. You can limit the amount of personal data that your devices, apps and browsers are able to access and share by configuring your privacy settings to suit what you think is appropriate. Set your privacy settings so that you’re always sharing the least amount of information possible. This can include making your social media accounts private, not sharing your location with certain apps or browsers and so forth.
Step 5: Get a password manager
A password manager is a cybersecurity tool that helps you keep track of your login information while also storing them securely in an encrypted vault. A password manager can aid you in keeping your digital footprint clean because you’ll always know what new accounts you sign up for when they’re saved to your vault. This makes it easier to track which accounts you don’t use anymore so that you can take the steps to delete or deactivate them. Not only that, but a password manager will also generate strong passwords for each of your new accounts – meaning you’ll never have to resort to reusing passwords or using weak passwords.
There are many benefits to cleaning up your digital footprint, including the following.
Protects your reputation
Before discovering what digital footprints were, we never realized the impact that a digital footprint could make on our lives. Having a clean digital footprint protects your reputation from being harmed because it prevents anyone from being able to find false information about you or information that could lead you to experience negative consequences.
Protects you from getting your identity stolen
When we leave a digital footprint behind, there’s a possibility that sensitive data is included such as home addresses, phone numbers and answers to security questions from oversharing on social media. All this information can lead to digital identity theft. Here are a few warning signs of digital identity theft you should look out for:
- Getting a notification that one of your accounts has been a part of a data breach
- Receiving bills for services that you don’t have knowledge about
- Spotting any unusual transactions on your bank accounts
Cleaning your digital footprint could make all the difference in keeping your identity safe.
Maintain a Clean Digital Footprint with Keeper
Once you’ve taken the steps to clean your digital footprint for the first time, maintaining it becomes an easy process. You’ll want to continue to search your name whenever you think is necessary so that you always know what personal information there is about you online. You’ll also want to invest in a password manager because it’ll help you keep track of the accounts you sign up for – making it easier for you to see which ones you don’t use anymore, so you can delete or deactivate them.
Don’t let your digital footprint cost you your reputation – let Keeper help you maintain a positive digital footprint by storing your accounts securely.