Five worthy reads is a regular column on five noteworthy items we have discovered while researching trending and timeless topics. This week, we delve into digital footprints for individuals, organizations, and explore how much power these “e-footprints” have over us.

Digital Footprint

Illustration by Vimal Kumar Pandiyan

A digital footprint, also referred to as a dossier, is a body of data that results from your online activity. You have limited control over how your digital footprint is utilized by others once things go public or even semi-public (ie: a private Facebook post). 

Digital footprints can be divided into two categories: active and passive. You leave active digital traces by posting on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, connecting to networks, and uploading images and videos to the web. Passive data is left by third parties and by you, often unknowingly. This can include things like cookies and information that companies have gathered about you.

A digital footprint reveals information that can be used to steal your identity. Your digital footprint is generally permanent, and once data traces become public, they are difficult to remove. Bad actors may duplicate or share them, leaving you with little power over the situation. So, a key component of digital footprint management is exercising caution when engaging in online activities to limit the amount of data collected.

Here’s some advice for managing your digital footprint:

  • Reduce your footprint. Remove any inappropriate photos, content, or links, as well as any information that is too detailed.

  • Selectively grant access to your information to those you trust.

  • Keep an eye on things. Know when your accounts are involved in a breach and be aware when others share or repost your content.

  • Consider the consequences of posting anything personal or inflammatory.

Organizations, like people, have massive digital footprints filled with traces of personal information collected from transactions and content accessed online. Every employee’s click, search, download, “like,” purchase, and geolocation is saved somewhere. And while digital footprints of buyer behaviors provide enormous opportunities for marketing efforts, there are also digital footprint risks that organizations must consider in data protection programs. Personal information from a consumer’s digital footprint can be used to craft a phishing email or to bypass security and hack their organization’s assets.

Take a look at five worthy reads about digital footprints and understand how people and organizations are affected.

1. What is a digital footprint? How to protect yourself online, and keep your data from being used against you   

If you aren’t well-acquainted with the term ‘digital footprint’, then this article is quite the starter kit. It walks through the types of digital footprints you leave while using the internet and describes how digital footprints can be used against you by threat actors.

2. How your digital footprint can impact your career

“These days it is a red flag if you have no online presence, so it is about controlling your digital footprint—not hiding it.” This short article highlights the requirement of an online presence and how it can sway your potential employers’ decision to hire you.

3. 3 steps to manage your enterprise’s digital footprint

An organization may have hundreds to thousands of unknown digital assets roaming freely. If you aren’t adequately monitoring these assets, cybercriminals may easily utilize the digital footprint of your organization to steal data and intellectual property. Find out how to understand the depth of your organization’s digital footprint to manage it effectively.

4. How your customers’ digital footprints help with KYC compliance  

Digital footprints are quickly replacing traditional data sources as a crucial tool for authenticating clients who would have been turned away and for detecting fraudsters who could have gotten by unnoticed. This blog post focuses on how a digital footprint can aid regulated businesses in serving the customer due diligence requirements.

5. Digital footprints and privacy concerns

We try hard to keep up a positive image online, and such digital profiles are bought and sold without permission. We’re leaving a larger digital footprint behind us, making it easier for bad actors to trade our personal data. This article discusses the threats we face and some strategies for maintaining a healthy digital footprint.

Life today relies heavily on the digital environment. Even though leaving some form of digital trace is unavoidable, there are steps you can take to reduce and control your footprint. Our advice? Tread lightly.