Minimizing your online footprint

Created date

April 24th, 2015
data security
data security

Cyber safety is a growing concern for just about anybody with access to the Internet. It’s a little too easy to be unaware of just how much personal information is floating around about you.  

What is my online footprint?

Your digital footprint is the culmination of any and all online activity. Online information is collected and stored two ways.  An active footprint is information given out deliberately. For example, social media is responsible for a great deal of personal information available online that was put there on purpose. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn all add to your digital footprint.  

However, your passive footprint is information collected without consent. This can include anything from your IP address to your browsing history. If you’re curious to see how easy it is to collect personal information from the Web, just Google your name. If more information than you feel comfortable with is available, it may be time to clean up your online presence.  

Privacy strategies

There are ways to reduce your footprint and increase your online privacy. The easiest way to restrict the amount of information online is by using and understanding privacy settings. You can set your account on all major social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter to be visible by invitation only. There are different levels of privacy, so make sure you read the options carefully. Another important thing to remember is that you must assume that anything posted online will be there forever. Whether it’s a photo or a product review, once information has been put on the Web, it can be almost impossible to truly remove it.  

Going off the grid and surfing privately starts with you and your Internet browser. Most common types like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox, all  have a private surfing feature. Setting this option “on” will prevent your browser from storing a history of visited websites. However, even in this incognito mode, online activity can still be tracked by third-party marketers. Many companies store Web activity so they can personalize ads to individual users. Additionally, it is important to remember to block pop-ups, delete screen scripts, and clear cookies on a regular basis. Not only will this prevent some sites from tracking your every move, but it should also help your computer run faster.  

Extra steps

There are a few programs available that will attempt to minimize the amount of data available about you. If interested in increased privacy for your computer, take some time to investigate products such as Adblock Plus, Ghostery, and Tor Browser. These products all perform different functions that will increase your anonymity and privacy online. But remember, it’s important to do all your research first so you end up with an easy-to-use and affordable product that fits your needs.