A digital footprint is a set of data and information that we create through our online activity. From opening Facebook or Instagram, through browsing the e-shop, watching videos or ordering food through a delivery service. All this is a digital footprint, which can be completely harmless, but in extreme cases it can be a reason to avoid studying at a selective school or a pretext for not being accepted for future employment. “The digital footprint can also be used by cyber-attackers to create a fake identity that replicates your behavior, to entice passwords or finances from you or your loved ones,” explains Vladimír Palečka, cyber-security expert at Aliter Technologies, adding: “These fake profiles can ask for various sensitive data on our behalf, such as accessing our bank account and causing considerable damage. The digital footprint is often a source of cyberbullying, with the attacker blackmailing the user under the threat of disclosing intimate information. ”
The worst thing about the digital footprint is that it is a permanent and indelible part of our online presence. If the user does not pay attention to it, it can also affect our lives. We leave two types of information within the footprint. The passive trace consists of data that we leave online unknowingly and it is mostly information about what device we are connecting from, what operating system we are using, what is our IP address, browser type or approximate location. An active digital footprint is often made up of more interesting data that we publish consciously about ourselves, namely our opinions and interests, age, birthdays, permanent residence, photographs, family information, search history, etc. These are all data that we usually voluntarily place on social networks or in public profiles under various registrations.
The digital track is not private. “On the contrary, many companies collect information about their visitors to get to know customers better and target advertising more effectively. Many of us were faced with a situation where we were looking for something, and after a while ads with offers for the goods we were looking for started showing . This is a perfect example of the harmless use of a digital track,” explains Vladimír Palečka, adding: “However, this is a “better” case of using a digital track. To protect ourselves from being misused, we should think about what we publish about ourselves on social networks and what information we consciously put into online space that could be a source for cyber-attackers.”
If we want to defend ourselves, we should first and foremost sort the information that gets about us on the Internet. Experts from Aliter Technologies advise that we first take care of setting privacy on social networks, regularly delete the history of our browsing – especially on computers and devices that are not our private – as well as browse the site anonymously (such a mode is offered by almost every Internet browser ). “A more advanced option is to use anti-tracking tools that prevent the software from tracking and recording our steps,” concludes Palečka.
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