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8 ways to cover your digital footprint

by Josef Kafka

Keeping online data secure and private is a concern to many people. The Internet of Things is exciting, until you consider how much of yourself you leave behind every time you go online. Or, when you engage with a service or company that stores information digitally.

Though developments like the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provide a legislative safety net, the truth is that organisations and individuals leave themselves exposed on a daily basis.

It means we all need to take greater responsibility for managing our online profile – or digital footprint. Preventing data breaches, and keeping your information private, is something that everyone should take seriously.

For a few people, this could include removing all traces of themselves online, making it hard for anyone to locate them using digital research.

For most organisations and individuals, it’s simply a matter of minimising the risk of your information falling in to the hands of hackers, fraudsters and snoopers.

So, what can you do to cover up your digital footprint?

Browsing awareness

Check your browser settings and make sure you are using the most up to date security and privacy measures. If you really want to be certain of keeping browsing private, opt for search engines which avoid advertising in favour of absolute privacy, such as DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com/).

Clear your cookies regularly too.

Secure subscribing and queries

Having information delivered to your inbox, and registering for online services, does make life a great deal more convenient. However, it also makes it easier for cyber criminals to conduct a digital trace.

It’s recommended that you set up and use a specific web based email for this sort of online activity, that doesn’t include clues to your identity. It can be a completely anonymous email address that is not connected to your business or home computer.

This is handy for companies keeping an eye on their competition too, without being too obvious.

Social media settings

Social media is valuable for commercial and leisure purposes. Having no social media presence is generally not an option.

However, you can take time to thoroughly research all privacy settings for each social media outlet. These are updated and changed regularly, so look out for the latest information.

Make sure you protect your security across multiple devices too as settings can vary. You can download apps to help with this.

Regularly carry out a thorough privacy sweep to make sure your settings are keeping your social media digital footprint on the down-low.

Think before you post

It may sound patronising, but you may be surprised how many times a day you go online and leave a fragment of data that identifies you.

This is not just simply posting holiday photos on Facebook and letting the world know your house is empty.

Never expose birthdays, nicknames, pet names etc. online, especially if you have used them in any of your passwords or user names (which is not a good idea generally).

If you comment on a forum or social media platform, make sure you don’t expose any sensitive details about yourself that could be used against you, such as medical conditions, where you work or full names of your family members.

It comes down to censoring yourself on a daily basis.

Check data protection policies

You may be a little wary now of emails and website pop ups banging on about privacy and data management under the GDPR.

However, they really are now a sign of the times - and a way of gauging whether you can safely entrust information to that organisation.

If organisations don’t have a clear and fully compliant policy on the way they manage data, you really do need to walk away (or click off).

Consider extra data security

Commercial ventures in particular should fully explore opportunities to add extra levels of security to the way information flows within and beyond their company devices.

This could include, for example, making sure you have the latest version of secure messaging applications and bringing in experts to audit your security protocols.

Secure communication also comes down to having strict rules in your household, and making everyone aware of the dangers and the best way to stay safe online.

For organisations, secure communications means having clear - and well enforced - policies and procedures.

Secure communications for companies

Your staff should know exactly who can and can’t go online using work devices and any limits on what sites they can visit and engage with.

Having a clear written policy on internet activity is crucial, but it’s equally important to set up systems to “police” that policy.

How can you detect misuse of company devices?

For example, are staff using company email addresses for non-company communications and to register on websites?

Are they posting on social media during the working day, showing aspects of your building, product or working practices, as well as breaching rules?

Bring in the experts

Clearly, specialist organisations who can trace people digitally – and who can detect online fraud and other crimes – can be highly useful in this situation.

They know how to expose digital footprints and uncover cybercrime.

So, it stands to reason that they are the best people to talk to about making sure your online data is secure and private.

Contact 1st Call Detectives to discuss our tracing services, or to limit how easily you can be traced online!


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