We’re so used to fact-finding, reading the news, connecting with others, and reviewing restaurants and shops on the Internet, that we often forget we’re sharing information about ourselves.

Our digital footprint is the information we leave about ourselves on the web. It’s important to know what we share with the public and what we share with our friends and relatives. Otherwise, it’s like walking out of a pool and leaving water footprints everywhere, which translates into a loss of privacy online. 

To take control of your digital footprint, here are some simple steps that will help you keep information about you from getting in the wrong hands to be used in phishing messages or calls.  

  • Search your full name: Type your name and surname into several search engines and check the first two pages. See anything suspicious? Change it immediately if you can (for example, by making a public profile private). If it’s on a website, contact its administrators and ask them to have the page removed or edited.

    Creating search alerts can also be useful so you can find out in real-time when something new with your name appears online and can take action straight away. If your name is common, you can add your town or an activity you do to narrow down the search results. 

  • Limit where you share information: Be aware of what you share and with whom. Regularly review your old social media posts. If they don’t fit in with how you want to be seen today, you can hide them, restrict access to them or even delete them.  

  • Adjust your privacy settings: Social media platforms allow you to determine who can see what you post. However, because many settings are not private by default, it’s a good idea to go over them every now and again.

    Instant messaging apps also have similar privacy settings, so review them as well. 

  • Delete old profiles and apps you no longer use: We have apps, profiles and accounts for just about everything but often stop using them. Even so, any information we’ve shared on them will still be there and, unless you adjusted your privacy settings, it may be available to the public.

    Before deleting an app, close or deactivate your account to remove all your profile information to reduce your digital footprint and protect yourself from data leaks. 

  • Manage your cookies: Cookies are small pieces of data a website you’ve visited sends to your browser. Third parties often use them to personalize your experience when you log back on, showing you deals based on your recent search history and other things. To limit the information you unwittingly share, set your browser to private mode or delete your search history regularly.  When you open a website for the first time, it will typically ask you to accept its cookies — review the information it requests and only accept the cookies you wish to share.

It’s important to protect the information you share online and know your digital footprint. Be discreet online and in public. 

You might like