6 tips to help you reduce your digital footprint and why it matters

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Whenever you go online, you leave a digital trail of information you willingly and unwillingly share. This is your digital footprint.

Reducing your digital footprint is worth it

By now, your online footprint consists of thousands of data points used to track you and your devices. Digital footprints are probably bigger than you think and they’re highly valuable to marketers, big tech companies, law enforcement and criminals.

According to Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection telemetry, users have willingly exposed an average of 26 data points online, to the detriment of their online security and privacy. This includes users’ educational job background, email addresses, URLs linking to social media accounts, and home addresses.

The digital nomad life would not exist without digital profiles, and despite its primary focus of targeted advertising (not necessarily a headache for consumers), your active footprint (the one you willingly create through posting and sharing info) can lead to harm in many ways.

It can make you an easy target for identity thieves, cybercriminals, stalkers, cyberbullies and other nefarious individuals. Last but not least, a reckless digital footprint can damage your reputation and rob you of important career and education opportunities.

A less visible digital shadow means more online privacy and security

Your digital shadow is a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly. However, you can take steps to minimize your digital footprint to protect your privacy and reputation:

· Share less. The rule of thumb in cleaning up your digital footprint is to share less personally identifiable information (PII). This means no more careless exposure of email addresses, phone numbers and other sensitive data on social media profiles and other online platforms.

· Delete old accounts and apps. Old and unused online accounts and apps are a security disaster waiting to happen. To reduce data collection processes, account takeovers or financial losses (via poor password management and data breaches) curate your online presence and delete or deactivate any accounts you’ve stopped using.

· Use an identity protection service to help keep track of your digital footprint and alert you to breaches and privacy risks

· Use a VPN that encrypts your data online and hides your real identity and physical location from network snoops, especially when connecting to unsecured networks or traveling. You can also avoid online profiling and monitoring from your ISP.

· Check your social media privacy settings often. We frequently emphasize the need to closely inspect the privacy features of each online platform to ensure digital miscreants won’t be able to target you and your money.

· Disable location tracking when possible to make sure that malicious individuals won’t be able to track your physical location.

Spring cleaning your digital footprint with Bitdefender

Bitdefender can help you find out if your personal information and other key pieces of your digital identity are in the wrong hands. With Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection service, you get a complete view of your online presence and learn how to manage your personal data to avoid privacy threats so you can protect your identity and online reputation.

With Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection, you can:

· Discover the extent of your digital footprint with an instant mapping of your online self

· Find your personal data in legal and illegal collections of data

· Get 24/7 data breach monitoring for up to five email addresses

· Detect social media impersonators who may ruin your reputation

· Receive instant alerts to privacy threats and data breaches