With Siri and Alexa to talk to, deepfake videos, ChatGPT, social media algorithms and ads that show up after you only said it earlier in the day, technology has made one thing clear-- it's here to stay and it's going to get to know you, whether you know it or not.
What is a Digital Footprint?
These ‘digital profiles’ that link us to the behaviors and activities we exhibit while using devices are known as our ‘digital footprint’ also known as 'digital shadows'. They can contain sensitive information such as location, recent search history, finances and even biometric data like fingerprints and facial features… kind of frightening when you step back and think about it.
Billions of data elements are collected from the searches you perform and the places you go to make inferences and better target marketing ads to you. Ever wonder why that Apple watch you were searching for keeps popping up in your news feed? That would be data tracking. Some people find it useful, but not all want our data to be so easily accessible.
Did someone say shared data? That’s right. Your data can easily be shared and transferred if you’re not careful. Did you know that “7 in 10 smartphone apps share data with third-party tracking companies” (The Haystack Project) and most of the time, it is done without the user even knowing…which can be pretty scary.
Why are Digital Footprints Important?
It's important to understand digital footprints and the potential impacts that they could have on individuals. The negative effect can lead to sharing too much information regarding someone's privacy which can unfortunately lead to identity theft, fraud, and more.
Second, a digital footprint can affect someone's reputation due to their online presence. Through an online presence, this is often reviewed by:
Tips to Navigate and Manage Your Digital Footprint
Don’t panic. There are several precautions you can take to enhance the protection and security of your data. We’re here to share a few ways to ensure you’re covered and help you steer clear of unwanted tracking!
- Social Media: The most basic thing you always want to do when using social sites is check your privacy settings. Make sure your settings are private and that you’re only sharing information with those you follow.
- Incognito & VPNs: Another way to boost your online safety is to use anti-tracking tools and make sure you’re always clearing your history and cookies. You can even try going ‘incognito”! Using the incognito setting in your browser means that none of your website visits are saved in your history, and none of your searches will be stored. To be truly invisible on the web, pair your incognito browser with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPN servers cannot be located, and they keep your surfing anonymous. If you’re using both incognito mode and a reputable VPN, you will be increasingly difficult to track, even for the most experienced online detectives.
- Check Your Footprint: Searching a name on Google will give a pretty good idea of what someone's digital footprint looks like. Additionally, there are more websites that will look into if an individual's sensitive data is currently public.
- Delete Old Accounts: If there are any accounts online that have old or outdated information or it is an account you no longer use, it is smart to delete them. This minimizes your information from being public or potentially accessible.
- Privacy Settings: Either on a phone or website, it is important to understand what applications have access to information. Some will request access to your contacts, location, and activity across other apps. Review these settings carefully to be aware of all consented information that is being made available.
As a company driven by data, using analytics and AI to provide clients with insightful graphs, charts and real-time updates about their operations, EOX Vantage understands privacy, and expertly navigates the many pitfalls of today’s technology. On our secure Enterprise Operating System (EOX), your data is always protected and never shared with outsiders.
The Haystack Project. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2019, from