All your information is now available publicly – to everyone everywhere!
We are not talking about your required information, which you have submitted willingly at different online forums. Instead, the information includes all your online history.
If you think, that as you have cleared the browsing history, then you are now safe.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Even if you regularly delete your history and cache, your footprints are remaining in the online world.
Whatever trick you apply, you can never erase digital footprint completely. Some of the traces will still be there. That is the main reason behind increasing rate of successful cyber-attacks, tracking, monitoring by different agencies, and hacking.
You may also have observed many times that you came across the advertisements that are so similar to your last searches. This is also because of your leftover digital footprints.
Now, you might be speculating what to do then? How can you erase your digital footprint?
Don’t worry. We will provide you some of the ways by which you can somehow reduce the digital footprints and protect yourself.
Digital Footprints – What Are They?
Many of us don’t know what is digital footprint and what it actually includes?
A digital footprint is the trail of information left behind while using technologies like internet, social media, smart devices, credit cards, loyalty cards, GPS systems, etc.
The websites you visit, the email you sent, and your submitted data on the online services, all add digital footprints. Blog publishing, posting on social media like uploading on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Skype and email records, all contribute to digital footprints.
Briefly, all the activities you perform online, you are in fact leaving footprints.
All such activities are easily traceable by third parties such as spies, advertisers, and law enforcement agencies. They can then access your data and use it according to their will.
Digital Footprints can be active or passive.
- Active Digital Footprints include the data, which you have provided intentionally. You can take Email, social media activities, blog posting, etc. as the examples. Therefore, the more you are active on online forums, the more you are creating a dynamic digital footprint.
- Passive Digital Footprint, on the other side, is the one that is generated unintentionally like internet browsing and online shopping. When you visit any site, the web server may log your IP address. By the help of IP, anyone can locate your possible location. Secondly, some search engines save your browsing history. It also creates digital footprints.
How Digital Footprints Affect You – Benefits and Drawbacks
Once any of your info is online, it will remain there forever. From your great achievements to your awkward photograph, once it is uploaded, there will always be a trail of it.
If you are taking all this lightly, then you should better know the consequences of digital footprints. Since there is no way to erase digital footprint, one should be careful about the possible effects.
Digital footprints have both positive and negative aspects. If you don’t have any embarrassing history or upload on the online forums, then there will be no harmful effects of the digital footprints. Instead, it can be helpful. However, if you have uploaded any suspicious or unethical post on any forum, this can decrease your points.
The trail of data you are leaving online can affect you in so many ways.
- It can create a number of job opportunities for you. If you have a favorable and impressive social media profile, with no awkward postings, then this will impress your employer.
- The advertising agencies can approach relevant audience with the help of digital footprints.
- Digital footprint lets the companies target the specific consumers for their products.
- While working on the office devices, it will help the employers to track all the activities and background of the workers.
- The intelligence and security agencies can keep an eye on all your internet activities with the help of digital footprints.
- They provide an easy way to the hackers and spies to track you.
- Your information can be used, without your consent, to generate revenue.
- Any inappropriate post, whether recently uploaded or an old one, can affect your impression.
- All your information is in access to
How can I erase digital footprint?
Erasing digital footprint is the point which everyone desires to know. The interaction with the digital world, by any means, is responsible for the digital footprints. These footprints play a role in establishing a reputation in the online world, helping in targeted marketing, personalization and much more.
A digital footprint is a permanent mark. Once your information becomes public, entirely or partly, you can then have a very little control over it. You can never know how others will use your data.
Observably, it is not possible for anyone to have none digital footprints. Every time you use your smart devices, digital footprints will generate.
You don’t have to worry anymore. We are here providing you some steps, which can answer your query that how to erase your digital footprint?
Removing the digital footprints is neither easy nor so hard- it’s a bit tricky. As mentioned earlier, digital footprints are active and passive.
Active footprints are the ones that are actually in your hands. You can choose the posts, pictures, and your other information before uploading it online.
Similarly, you can check the post first prior liking or comment on it. But once the data is online, then no one can claim to provide any method to remove it.
However, you don’t have any control over the passive digital footprints. You do not release the data; here your IP address is involved.
Therefore, the question how to erase digital footprint and the possible methods are mainly for the passive type.
Now let’s have a look at the ways by which you can delete or reduce your digital life footprints.
Search Yourself Online
Before following any of the steps, first search yourself online. This will let you know the extent of your data available publicly.
By the help of these sites, you can not only check the information available to everyone but also limit or remove the personal data from company databases.
You should also use Image searches. These will you the accounts or websites that might you have forgotten.
Social Media Privacy Settings
The second most important step to reduce or erase digital footprint is to lock whatever has uploaded on different social networking sites. Many of us are habitual of uploading even minute details and pictures on the social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and others.
All the information uploaded on these sites, are the potential targets to access you. Therefore, these personal data should be well secured and protected.
You can alter the Privacy Settings of these social sites and limit the audience for your posts to family and friends only. You can also remove persons from your friend and follower lists.
Deactivate or Remove Extra Accounts
It’s common to have multiple accounts like for accessing different sites. Many times, we forgot them. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the internet. It remembers your all accounts along with the details uploaded.
That is the main reason for your digital availability. To erase digital footprint in the online world, you can remove or delete the additional accounts.
If you are not sure about them, then search your name on Google. If there is any difficulty in deleting the accounts, then you can change the username and profile picture.
Even on social media if you have extra and old accounts like on Facebook, Twitter, etc., you must eliminate them. This is the only way to reduce online presence.
Similarly, your Email addresses are now commonly used for digital transactions. However, these are potential targets for the hackers. If you have an open email account and you are not signing it regularly, then the account can be easily hacked. Therefore, it is better to close the email accounts that you are not using.
Unsubscribe Mailing Lists
Another step to erase digital footprint is to unsubscribe the emails that are not important for you. Frequently, we subscribe to email newsletters to get well-updated information automatically.
The mailing lists are also accountable for data trailing. You can unsubscribe the mailing lists. By doing so, you will not get any newsletter further, and your inbox will remain neat and clean.
Secondary Email Accounts
Account hacking, especially on social media, is now getting very common. The hacker cannot only get details uploaded on your account but can also access to your mailing address.
For recovery, the site asks you to submit an email address, where your new password or any code can be sent. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a hidden secondary email account to recover the affected one.
Likewise, many websites require email address after which they allow access. Since there is a risk of generating digital footprints. Therefore, you can insert your secondary email address here. If you think, specific mailing lists are essential, and they may help you in future, then just have a secondary email account and subscribe the useful links.
Make sure your new account does not have real information. Otherwise, there will be no use of having the secondary address.
Check Online Marketing Accounts
The accounts on e-commerce and retailer services are the best targets for hackers and spies. These accounts have all the financial data and your original details. Here you cannot use fake information.
Therefore, if you have ever made an account on such services like eBay, Amazon, and other retailers then consider deleting them. You should also erase the financial discussions with them and other details like your bank account number, and credit card as an attempt to erase digital footprint of yours from here.
Delete Posts From Social Media Accounts
If you have posted any picture of yourself, or your friends and family on Facebook, Flickr and other such sites, immediately remove them. Anyone can have easy access to these pictures, and so these can be misused.
Likewise, if your friends tag you in different photos on Facebook or mention in comments, then remove the tags. This is because, even after deleting the whole profile, the data or tags will still be there.
If someone searches your name on the social websites, he/ she can easily see your photos and other activities. Similarly, any controversial post can also become dangerous for you because our profiles are continuously monitored.
So, be careful while uploading such posts and remove such immediately if you have ever uploaded any to erase digital footprint from social media.
Remove Blogs and Blogging Accounts
If you have ever posted a blog on accounts, like Blogger and WordPress, then even after years, you will find them as it is on the internet. Since the blogs have a brief introduction about the author as well, therefore your information will always be there.
If you try to delete the posts, even then the blogs will be available online. Thus, the only way to get rid of them is to delete the blogging profile account. This can erase all your postings and hence erase your digital footprint.
Refrain From Data Broker Sites
If you are satisfied with all your security measures on social sites, then let us disclose the creepiest secret.
Despite all the safeguards on your profile, everyone can still get your location, phone numbers, and public records within a flash of an eye.
Yeah, this is true.
You can find so many sites, both paid and free, that can easily give all the details about the person you are searching. These are the Data Broker or People-search sites. The sites, the primary data broker like Intelius, directly collect information from the public records.
While the secondary site such as Spokeo provides a much-detailed data gathering from the primary broker sites, social networking sites, and other online sources. The availability of such vast quantities of the data can be dangerous for you.
You might be now wondering how to remove your digital footprint from such sites then?
Well, sadly, there is no way except to contact the data broker sites and requesting them to remove your details.
Clear Browsing History And Cache
Every time you surf the internet via any browser, history, and cache saves on your computer. The browsing histories are also the digital footprints, with the help of which third parties can follow you. If you have searched for your profile to delete it, the traces of your account will remain there in the form of browsing history.
For that reason, you should clear the web browser history after using the internet regularly as an attempt to erase digital footprint. You should remove cookies and cache that are saved on your computers.
Furthermore, Google URL removal tool will help you to clear all the searched data and cached search results about the deleted social media accounts.
Future Online Protection Tips
Ones you have removed all the possible traces of your digital life, don’t get relaxed. The risk is yet there.
Think about the next step; your Future!
Undeniably, no one wants to leave the digital footprints and do all the steps to erase digital footprint again.
We are here providing you the ways by which you can protect further leakage of data upon browsing.
Use Incognito Mode
Fortunately, web browsers offer Incognito or private mode. By switching to the private mode, you can surf the internet anonymously to some extent. The primary encryption service is the easiest way to erase digital footprint and thus become less traceable.
If you are an ordinary user, then the services provided by the web browsers will be sufficient for you. The Incognito Mode of Chrome, InPrivate Browsing by Internet Explorer, Private Window of Firefox and private browsing via Safari, limit the cookies to be scrapped by the websites.
Try VPN or Tor Browser
Erasing digital footprint fully is not possible. It is generated as soon as you enter the online world. For private and secured internet surfing, many VPN services are available. The amazing paid services (IPVanish is the recommended one) encrypt all your online trafficking via various protocols. Thus, they allow the user to get through the internet, without leaving any trace behind.
If the recommended paid service, IPVanish, is out of your budget range, then simply switch to the Tor internet browser. By directing your browser activities to a wide range of servers, it actually protects you from tracking by anyone.
For protecting your online activities from tracking in future, many tools are now available that masks your original identity. These include Disconnect, Ghostery, and DoNotTrackMe. All of them are responsible for blocking the software known to monitor all your activities. By using these solutions, you can hide your personal data.
Besides the applications, Anonabox is another anti-tracking tool that wraps your location and covers your browsing history, file transfers, emails, and other digital transductions. It is a little hardware, which works effectively through VPN and Tor Browser. Therefore, you can have anonymous internet ride at any place without the risk of digital footprints.
Hide others, or add false information
You may find the answers to the queries like how to remove your digital footprint or limit it, very much complicated and time-consuming. Frist trace your accounts, then delete them one by one, and finally clear the browsing history.
So difficult! Right?
Additionally, some of the social media networks do not allow deleting the profile. You can only deactivate the account. Moreover, this is something very useless because your information is still accessible.
So let’s consider the question first.
Will someone be going to verify the information you have uploaded on the internet?
Then, why to upload the original information on the sites?
Hence, the simplest way to reduce the digital footprints is to create a fake profile.
You can falsify your account details like email address, phone number, profile picture, city name, and even your own name. This all will let you completely hidden on the internet world.
Whatever you do on the internet, is continuously leaving a trace behind through which anybody can catch you. Your browsing history, extra accounts, emails, and all such activities are the primary culprit for leaking your personal information.
Therefore, it is mandatory to erase digital footprint for anyone who doesn’t want to make public his/her life. Removing the trail of data actually means deleting the online life and reducing the risk of misuse of the information. This will help you to hide not only your details but also the awkward photos and suspicious posts that may harm you.
Although, it is not possible to completely evaporate all the net activities. However, by following the tricks and tips provided in our article, you can somehow manage the degree of digital footprints creation.