Have you ever wondered why you see the same types of adverts again and again or why flight prices have increased so dramatically since your last visit to the booking website which was only a couple of hours ago?
To answer this mildly, your online activity is being tracked constantly to ensure websites display products that match your browsing history whilst increasing prices since your last search to build urgency and lure you to book with them immediately. In other words, every time you surf the internet you are leaving your own unique digital footprint which companies and individuals use to track your information and browsing patterns for their own commercial benefit. Your “digital footprint” contains records of your recent online purchases along with traces of your online activity such as social media posts and any comments you have made on news articles etc.
There are the following two categories of Digital footprint which differ depending on how your information has been acquired:
- Active digital footprints – consist of the data you leave on the internet intentionally. Some examples of this are posting on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter), filling out online forms or agreeing to accept cookies when prompted by your web browser. Active Digital footprints are created by data you have left intentionally or at least have agreed to leave.
- Passive digital footprints – consist of data you have left on the internet unintentionally such as websites that install cookies on your device without advising you, apps or websites using geolocation which pinpoints your location without your knowledge and social media news channels and advertisers that use your likes, shares and comments to create your own unique profile with a view to matching your likes and interests with relevant advertisements.
How to reduce your digital footprint
Some ways to reduce active or passive digital footprints are listed below:
- Configure privacy settings on your social media accounts – Your social media profile and posts are visible to the whole world unless you configure your privacy settings to restrict who can view you profile. By visiting your privacy setting’s, you can allow only those on your friend’s lists to view your data or even select which of your friends you wish to see your profile and ultimately what you post within it. This will reduce the chance of your social media data being included into your digital footprint for commercial use.
- Download anti-virus software and update it regularly –Anti-virus software can identify new kinds of malware and viruses which stalk your online activity and prevent them from infecting your machine. Good anti-virus software is essential in the modern world however it is also vital to ensure that your ant-virus software is kept up to date, as older versions may not have the ability to detect the latest threats to your system.
- Clear your browsing history or be sure to browse in ‘incognito’ mode –Cookies saved within internet browsers help websites track your Information and activity such as saved passwords, the content you’ve used in auto-fill forms and the pages you have recently visited. This means cookies can ultimately reveal your sensitive information to anyone who may wish to get access to your system therefore It is advisable to clear your browsing history on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can select the ‘incognito’ or ‘private browsing’ modes depending on the browser you choose to surf the internet with.
Hopefully you now have a basic understanding of what digital footprints are and how you can protect your data. Think of your digital footprint as an extension of who you are as it is the digital image you create for the world to see.
Intellope provides anti-virus, firewall and security software configurations for your organization which will ensure you are protected from the newest types of malware and viruses that are designed to stalk your online activity.
For more details on our products and services please visit us at intellope.com. You may just find what you need to keep your system secure and boot your business in the right direction.