Every search engine, website, online advertiser and scammer is after your digital footprint data. Time to manage and privatize your tracks…

Social media platforms are among favored by threat actors as a hunting ground for snaring victims.

Sometimes, even the slightest oversharing of information on social media can lead others to the trail of your digital footprints, guiding them closer to stealing your privacy.

Little things that may seem inconsequential, such as sharing a selfie or tagging a location, can contribute heavily to accumulating information about you, leading to potential risks including identity theft, insider threats, and numerous internet scams and frauds.

Claribel Chai, Country Director (Singapore), Palo Alto Networks

Scammers thrive by creating a sense of urgency, so it is important not to rush when asked to provide any information online. Always take the time to check and validate before taking any action. Following are more tips for keeping your digital identity safe:

    1. Beware of unnecessary sharing of personal details
      Doing to online can put you at risk of identity theft, fraud, or stalking. Therefore, it is important to be thoughtful about what personal information you share online. You can limit your exposure by changing your social media into a private one that only people you accept into your network can access information about you on a need-to-know basis.
    2. Take back control of your online privacy
      Websites gather data about your online activities through third-party trackers and cookies that can then be used to create a profile of you for delivering targeting advertising. Using ad-blockers and privacy add-ons can reduce the amount of information that is gathered about you online. While privacy extensions block trackers and cookies to prevent websites from gathering information about you, ad-blockers prohibit advertisements from showing on web pages. Note that some websites may not function properly if you leave these tools turned on, and some may require you to do so to access particular features or material.
    3. Close inactive and irrelevant accounts
      Deleting old and unused social media accounts can be a beneficial endeavor to declutter your online presence. Start by exploring your most frequently used email and search for verification emails to identify the accounts you have previously created. By removing these dormant accounts, you can streamline your digital footprint and regain control over your virtual identity. This proactive step allows you to free up valuable digital space and ensure that your online presence reflects your current interests and activities.
    4. Preserve the privacy and safety of your phone
      Regularly perform mobile phone housekeeping, uninstalling unneeded apps and scrutinizing permissions for those we keep. Each access request by any app should be carefully considered. Toggle location tracking as needed, turn off Bluetooth when we do not need it, and remember that tech behemoths can utilize devious tactics to identify your device’s whereabouts. In an era of growing surveillance, take control, stay informed, and fortify your digital privacy.
    5. Pick and choose those pesky tracking cookies
      Most websites use cookies to track user activity, preferences, and login information. Fortunately, many of them allow you to enable or disable specific types of cookies to have provide granular control over what information they collect about you. It is also essential to clear your browser’s stored cookies regularly, thus erasing recorded information about your online activities.
    6. Contact platforms for the removal of your existing data
      While it may be challenging to have your digital footprint completely removed from the online system, nevertheless, you can reach out to search engines and request the removal of your data from their systems. While it may require some patience, and there is no guarantee of success, the potential rewards can be truly remarkable.
    7. Guide the elderly and children about online privacy
      These groups may be more trusting of strangers on social media and hence can be more susceptible online. Guide them on password hygiene, cybersecurity and social media best practices.