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What is a Digital Footprint? How to protect yourself from Identity Theft?

January 31, 2022
7
Minutes Read
Digital footprint / identity theft

Understanding the concept of digital footprints is one important component of defending ourselves against cyber dangers. A digital footprint,  is the trail of data we leave behind every time we use the Internet.

Every activity we do on the Internet, from seemingly innocuous site browsing and online shopping to social media and email, contributes to our digital footprint.

Today, almost 89 % of Australians are active internet user. Nearly 85% of these Internet users utilize social media on a regular basis. While having access to the Internet is an important right, it also increases one's vulnerability to criminality. Over 56% of Internet users worldwide have been a victim of cybercrime at some point.

All of our social media posts are data points that add up over time, expanding our footprint surface area. Cybercriminals can create thorough digital profiles of our behaviours, likes, dislikes, and other psychological qualities if they have access to such large volumes of data. Unfortunately, this information is all they require to uncover and exploit our vulnerabilities.

What is Digital Footprint?

Digital footprint, also known as a digital shadow or an electronic footprint, is the trail of data you leave behind when you use the internet. It includes the websites you browse, emails you send, and information you supply online. A person's internet actions and gadgets can be tracked using a digital footprint. Internet users leave a digital footprint, either actively or passively.

You leave a digital footprint, which is a trail of information, when you use the internet. Leaving a digital footprint can be as simple as posting on social media, signing up for a newsletter, writing an online review, or shopping online.

Your digital footprint can have a long-term impact on your reputation, connections, and job prospects (both positive and negative). Understanding how this works is a critical first step toward making a good influence.

What is the significance of digital footprints?

Digital footprints are significant because:

  • They are relatively permanent, and once data is made public or even semi-public, as in the case of Facebook posts the owner has little influence over how others use it.
  • A person's digital reputation, which is now as significant as their offline reputation, can be determined by their digital footprint.
  • Before making a recruiting choice, employers might analyze their potential employees' digital footprints, particularly their social media accounts. Colleges and colleges can now investigate the digital footprints of prospective students before accepting them.
  • Words and photographs you upload on the internet can be misconstrued or manipulated, resulting in inadvertent offence.
  • Content designed for a small group might easily spread to a larger audience, affecting ties and friendships.
  • Cybercriminals might take advantage of your digital footprint by phishing for account access or constructing fraudulent identities based on your information.

For these reasons, it's important to think about what your online presence says about you. Many people try to control their digital footprint by being cautious about their online activity in the first place.

How to protect yourself from Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone impersonates you and utilizes your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or birthdate, to steal from you.

Identity theft occurs when someone utilizes your personal details to misrepresent you or rob from you. When they are apprehended, identity thieves may deplete your bank and investment accounts, open new credit lines, get utility service, steal your tax refund, get medical care using your insurance information, or furnish authorities with your name and address.

It's probable that your personal information has already been compromised due to the prevalence of data breaches. In this new environment, it's wise to take safeguards to prevent criminal actors from gaining access to your personal information and causing financial harm.

There is no failsafe way to prevent identity theft, and monitoring systems will only alert you if something goes wrong. There are a few things you can do, though, to make it significantly more difficult for identity thieves to steal your identity.

Preserve the integrity of your Security Safety number

The main secret to your private details is your Security Safety number. Protect it as much as possible. When you're asked for your phone number, find out why it's needed and how it'll be kept safe. Don't forget to leave your credit card at home. Any paperwork including your Social Security number should be stored or discarded in a secure area.

Keep an eye out for phishing and spoofing attempts

Scammers can make calls that look to be from the government or a firm, and emails that appear to be from the government or a company could be attempts to steal your personal information. Instead of responding to a phone call or email, call back or send an email from a known entity, such as the official website. Additionally, attachments should be avoided because many of them are infected with viruses.

Add a security step and use secure passwords

To create and manage unique, unique passwords for your accounts, use a password manager. Reusing passwords is not a smart idea. Using an authenticator software can reduce your risk. Do not use security questions to secure your accounts; your mother's maiden name and your pet's name are both easy to find. Consider what you post on social media to make sure you're not disclosing critical information or sending out clues about how you answer security questions.

Take use of alerts

Many financial institutions will send you an SMS or email when transactions on your accounts are made.

Sign up to get alerts on when and where your credit cards are used, as well as withdrawals and deposits to your bank accounts.

Shredding

Any credit card, bank, or investment statements found in your trash should have never been there to begin with. Junk mail, especially preapproved credit offers, should be shredded as well.

Make advantage of a digital wallet.

To pay online or at a store, use a digital wallet, which is an app that holds secure, digital versions of credit and debit cards. It can be used to make purchases online or at a terminal that accepts it. Transactions are more safe since they are tokenized and encrypted. Contactless transactions are also safer for your health.


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