Have you ever noticed how you left an impression or footprint whenever you walk on a sandy beach? In the digital realm, whenever you visit a website, subscribe to a newsletter, post something on social media, or purchase a product online- you left behind a trail of data on the Internet. This series of data is called the Internet footprint or shadow.
Unlike your footprint on the beaches that will be washed up eventually, your Internet footprint will not obliterate rather it will grow over time and poses two real. The first danger is your security or identity theft. It is obvious that your email address and other personal details are leaked somewhere on the Internet. And, if you reuse passwords for your different accounts chances are no less than a crook person may take control of one of your accounts and pose himself online instead of you. The second danger is embarrassment or falling in an awkward position.
Gone are the days that people no longer write a personal diary. Instead, they use digital notes app where they wrote their most intimate thoughts. People also express their emotional thinking by sending messages to a close friend by using different chat apps. The problem here is because of the lack of security in the digital note apps or the confusion in the privacy settings of the chat apps, these personal thoughts or intimate messages can be leaked online and thus throwing the unlucky guy into deep embarrassment. The good news is you are not helpless regarding deleting your Internet footprint. How? Let’s know this from this article.
Don’t use the same passwords for your different accounts
Many people are a bit careless in this regard. They tend to use the same password for their different accounts. Despite crafting a strong password, databases of user names (email addresses) and passwords are available to purchase on the dark web market places. This means the rogue people can collect these databases and may get access to one of your accounts (if you use the same passwords for your several accounts). So the best practice is to use different unique passwords for different accounts.
Figure out whether cybercriminals have obtained your information
Visit the site haveibeenpwned.com to see whether your email address, phone number or passwords are included in any leaked databases that are available to criminals. However, don’t be complacent thinking that the information available here (haveibeenpwned) is enough or in other words your other user names or passwords have not been stolen. The information available in haveibeenpwned.com is just a warning for you alerting you about what criminals can acquire.
Delete accounts that you no longer use
Once you may have opened a lot of accounts but now you may use only a couple of accounts. If that is the case, delete all of your unused accounts. It is because while opening these accounts, you submit your basic personal details which are susceptible to stolen by online criminals..
Perform an online search with the phrase delete old email account to learn how to delete your old accounts. Alternatively, you can visit justdelete.me where you will get instructions regarding deleting different types of accounts.
Find all of your previous accounts
It is likely that you can’t remember all the online accounts that you have ever opened. To find your old accounts, search your email with the phrase “welcome”, “verify”.
Delete unimportant old emails
There are many old unimportant emails sitting idle in your inbox. They contain personal details that could be used by identity thieves. Delete them all.
Utilize social media privacy settings
Using social media privacy settings you can restrict who can see what you post on social media sites. On Facebook, for example, you can limit how many people can find you, who can get your post on their newsfeed, and what Facebook can share about you with the other companies. To learn about Facebook privacy settings visit this site.
Delete previous social media posts
You can delete or archive the old social media posts. In the case of Facebook, for example, it features a tool“ Manage activity tool”. Using this tool you can delete or archive posts older than a certain date. In the case of Instagram, you can delete or archive individual posts. On both platforms-Facebook and Instagram- only you can see the archived posts. Though Twitter has no built-in feature to delete old tweets, there is a third-party tool –tweetDelete- that can do the job either automatically or based on specific criteria set by you.
Leave people finder websites
Besides social media sites, there are numerous people finder websites that host databases containing personal details of peoples like names, ages, addresses, phone numbers, and even court records. Opt-out from these people finder websites. But the difficulty is you need to opt-out from each website separately. Another thing is a few of these services will opt you in again. So you need to opt out again from these sites.
There are services like privacy duck or Deleteme promise that can do the opting out job for you But that requires you to spend hundreds of dollars. Unless you are a public figure or harassed online incessantly, spending a hefty amount of money for this purpose is not a good idea.
Use a private search engine
To curb the data accumulated on you in the future, use a private search engine like DuckDuckGo. Select it as a default search engine every device you use. To do that, go to DuckDuckGo.com and click the add button. Unlike Google or other big-name search engines, DuckDuckGo does not trail your searches and connect them to you. So you will get rid of seeing targeted ads.
Activate more privacy setting in Google to stop tracking you
If you are unwilling to stop using Google, activate more privacy setting in it so that it stops tracking your online activity. Go to my Google activity page by clicking on your Google profile photo. Then proceed to manage your Google account. Then, on the left navigation panel, click on the data and privacy. Here, in the history setting, click on my activity and turn off those activities that you don’t want to save.
Use a virtual private network
When you will use a VPN your internet service provider can’t see the websites you are browsing and the websites only see your VPN’s IP address thus making you unanimous to both your ISP and websites you are accessing. While choosing a VPN, read the independent reviews and select a trustworthy VPN. A good VPN’s subscription fee is only a few dollars per month. However, despite the paid versions’ cost, they are better than free versions because the free services are not trustworthy and may sell your data to a third party to make a profit.
Using a VPN does not mean your privacy is completely ensured. If you are connected to a VPN, access Google’s website, sign in to your google account, now google knows who you are. If you refrain from signing into google, websites can check your browser cookies to link your VPN activity to your previous browsing. So for better privacy, even if you use VPN, use the browser’s privacy mode. For Chrome, click on the File menu in the upper left corner and select the New Incognito Window. For Firefox select new private window.
Tell Google to stop collecting your location history
You may not know that Google is tracking you and building a database of your movements unless you tell it not to do so. Google is tracking you via a smartphone that uses its Android operating system. And, in an iPhone, if a user installs the google maps app and gives it location access. To stop collecting your location history, go to my google activity page and select the option pause collection of location and delete collected location data or you can also tell Google to automatically delete your location history.