People are spending more and more of their lives in the digital world.
But every organization they interact with digitally wants to keep something from users, asking for various information; such as logins, communication, location, and even browsing history, among other things to offer more personalized experiences, but also to leverage their relationship with users.
“The more websites and apps you use to share personal and account information, the more likely you are to have your information compromised if one of these companies is compromised, or if you become the target of an attack”,
according to Phil Muncaster of digital security company ESET.
A smart move would be to limit the amount of information you share and the information you post online.
Here are, according to ESET, ten ways to limit your digital footprint, based on the principle of data minimization:
1. Don’t fill out online surveys
The internet is full of contests and prize offers, often in exchange for completing online surveys. Most of the time these are covert marketing campaigns to build a contact list. Other times they may be malicious actions designed to steal your personal information for use in “phishing” campaigns and/or for sale on the dark web.
2. Keep your location secret
One of the most intrusive forms of data logging is that which tracks your location. From this, third parties can compile a highly accurate picture of your daily movements and habits. This not only compromises your digital privacy, but can also compromise your physical safety. Be sure to stop apps that track your location.
3. Be ruthless with digital newsletters
Brands are very involved with digital newsletters. They believe that this enables them to communicate directly with their customers and provide them with personalized content and offers. But, for many users, online newsletters do little more than fill their email inboxes. So resist the urge to sign up. Alternatively, use a dedicated email address, or a disposable email account, especially if you’re signing up for something you only plan to use once.
4. Download fewer apps
Mobile applications often require users to provide a significant amount of personal and/or financial information in order to function as intended. They may also track your location, browsing activity, and other information that is then shared with third parties. It stands to reason that the fewer apps you have, the less exposed your information will be. Don’t download apps first and ask questions later. Do your research before deciding if it’s something you really need. It goes without saying that you should regularly “clean” your devices to remove any apps you haven’t used in a while. At the same time, check the permissions for any apps you decide to keep.
5. Create fewer accounts and proceed to clean up the ones you already have
Companies don’t just want your order. They want your loyalty. This is why many will push you to create accounts and share information that can be leveraged that way. It could be anything from an e-commerce store to a media website. Resist the temptation to do so, even if it means that your payment and other details will not be saved the next time you visit the online store. A little inconvenience is often the price we pay for greater privacy and security. If over the years you have created online accounts that you no longer need and use, close them.
6. Don’t give out sensitive data
Sometimes sharing information is unavoidable to get the goods or services you want. But be careful what you reveal. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t share phone numbers, email and home addresses, financial information and social security numbers, which are in high demand in the dark world of cybercrime. Emails and phone numbers can be used, for example, to send “phishing” emails (phishing). Use guest accounts when shopping online to further reduce risk.
7. Think twice before sharing something on social media
Social media is like a digital megaphone. For many users the content they share will be ‘liked’, re-shared and virtually impossible to remove or retire once it’s out in cyberspace. Therefore, it is important to first consider how this content may be received by others and prospective employers. And if it contains sensitive information about work and personal life. Also, consider limiting your profile to your online friends/contacts and not adding anyone you don’t know in real life. Review your privacy preferences.
8. Exercise the right to erasure (“right to be forgotten”)
In some parts of the world, including the European Union, the data subject can request the erasure of personal data concerning him. The so-called “right to be forgotten” is defined under the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR). Search the internet for your name to see what’s out there and contact website owners directly to request deletion. Then contact search engines like Google to do the same.
9. Disable cookies
Cookies are tiny files that are downloaded to your computer or device when you visit a website. They are used by the website owners to profile their visitors and save their preferences for future visits. While this may make the browsing experience better, many users would prefer not to share this type of information, which may include usernames and passwords. If you are given the option when visiting a website, simply decline to accept cookies. You can also disable third-party tracking by going to your browser’s privacy settings.
10. Reduce the number of devices you use
Finally, consider how many devices and computers you use. Each of these devices is a potential treasure trove of data that could be exposed if the device is lost or stolen.
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