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What is a Digital Footprint and Why is it important?

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What is a Digital Footprint and Why is it important?

You might be thinking about what is Digital Footprint, as most of you might be hearing about it for the first time, or you have a clue about it. However, in this article, you will learn about what is a digital footprint and how it works.

You know that most of us spend time online on online platforms sharing our daily working posts. Sometimes that is enough for the perpetrator to steal our whereabouts and use it for illicit work. In this condition, we should know how to stop that.

Just like that, the digital footprint is as sensitive as our data. So, we need to know how to predict where we left our Digital Footprint and how we can protect ourselves from being victimized by a cyber attack caused by a digital footprint. Without further do, let’s hop into the topic.

What is a Digital footprint?

A Digital Footprint is wholesome of the tracked-down record of a user’s online activity. No matter what they have done online, that activity turns into the format of data that is known as a digital footprint.

Following are examples of digital footprints

  • Posts,
  • Comments,
  • Likes, and
  • Searches,

Thus, in the future, that data can help acknowledge a person’s online behavior through the hours he/ she has spent online. These footprints work as information to build a smart portfolio of users’ likes and dislikes.

Many marketing companies use these footprints to acknowledge their consumer’s favorite items from the organization’s manufacturing product catalog. Businesses follow these footprints to know where the trend goes.

There, they send messages, links, schemes, and offers over user contacts to promote their products. That sometimes works for the company as a promotion. Now, why is digital footprint important? To know that, you can read the further lines.

Why is digital footprint important?

You can see its importance by how it works for you. It is your permanent online activity record. It can impact your social image, no matter if it’s online or offline. Anyone who follows your digital footprint can see your daily activities, such as

  1. Employers,
  2. College Admissions Officers,
  3. Or anyone stalking your online presence.

You must be aware of your digital footprint as it can turn upside-down situations for you online.

Types of Digital Footprint

Active Digital Footprint

Whenever a person does online activities such as – purchasing things, posting social media posts, making posts, uploading reviews, and commenting on others’ activities online, it creates data that is known as Active Digital Footprint.

Through this, your online presence gets created, which can support organizations in building their personal brand.

Passive Digital Footprint

It’s the data organizations collect when a user accesses a website/ uses an online service. In the list of data collected by the organization, you’ll see

  1. IP Address,
  2. Browser Type,
  3. Operating System,
  4. Page Views, and
  5. Time Spent on a page.

Via the Passive Digital Footprint, one can track a person’s behavior online. Moreover, this data helps organizations to enhance their services/ products according to the market and users’ demands. Well, that’s a positive side of digital footprint. Right?

What are the consequences of a digital footprint?

Now, the question is, what if your digital footprint gets into the hands of an unauthorized person?

● It can give you both positive & negative impacts.

● If you think positively, it can offer positive promotion online and create connections, enhance audience center of attention pov.

● Now, the negative side will show you a dreadful situation. Such as – employers can find your online presence a bit embarrassing. Sometimes, cybercriminals can use your “DF” to scam you.

● Online data upload should be done if you are sure of what you are posting online.

● One can use Digital Footprint to

a) Track and Observe people’s online activities and

b) Can cause potential Privacy and Security Risks.

● It can also be used to deliver ads and promotional content online based on the user’s experience.

● Moreover, this can cause a dilemma in one’s life as it can give a chance to critics to dilute your image by accusing the victim of false rumors and other stuff.

● It also impacts an individual’s job prospects and other opportunities, such as

a) Employers,

b) And other Decision-Makers (to evaluate potential candidates).

 

How can we prevent digital footprints?

If you want to prevent making your digital footprints over a website that you might not think is legitimate, use the following steps:

  1. Using a VPN would be a great idea when surfing online. It allows you to camouflage your IP Address & protects your activities from being tracked.
  2. A secure web browser would be the best choice if you want your website surfing to be private and don’t want others to see your browsing history.
  3. Deleting your browsing history & cookies consistently can make your browsing environment cozy, as it can hide your visit info.
  4. A search engine that doesn’t track your surfing would be great. Several search engines offer you the benefit of not tracking your browsing data and won’t even share your data with other organizations. Ex – DuckDuckGo.
  5. Don’t share everything online, as it won’t hurt to keep private things private to yourself. Research has shown that normally what we post online, we think is safe to do so. However, the attackers are sitting on the other side of the platforms waiting for you to upload your data online for them. So, don’t do that.
  6. 2FA can support one to secure online accounts from unauthorized users. It will work as a protective layer over your online accounts.

Digital Footprint Examples

Following are the Digital Footprint Examples that can give you an idea of how such footprints are created:

  • Social Media Activities

If someone posts something online/ on social media can become a digital footprint. Like – photos, videos, comments, blogs, and many more.

  • Online Shopping

Suppose you’re buying a product online and saving your data over the platform; it can become your digital footprint. That’s because your activities of purchasing and surfing through the portal have been recorded in the database of the website.

  • Forum Comments

A forum is a platform that allows you to post about something you like or want to talk about. Comments and contributions to blogs and online discussions can leave a digital footprint.

  • Website Visits

When someone visits a website, their logging IP Address is recorded in the website’s database and becomes a digital footprint.

  • Online Banking

Online Banking Transactions/ Account Queries can also create digital footprints.

  • Email Correspondence

Sending and Receiving between a sender and recipient create a digital footprint for the users.

  • Online Searches

Surfing online can also become a digital footprint cuz it notes where the surfer has arrived.

Frequently Asked Questions

About What is a digital footprint and why is it important?

  1. What is a Negative Digital footprint?

Mostly criminals or critics use several techniques to create a Negative Digital Footprint against a person, company, or a thing that they don’t like. Such activities can ruin anyone’s image poorly and can contain ingrate hatred towards the individual.

Such posts can involve

  1. negative comments,
  2. Photos,
  3. Posts,
  4. videos, and
  5. other online interactions potentially able to damage a person’s credibility or reputation

2. What is a  Positive Digital footprint?

A Positive Digital Footprint can impact our daily lives, our decisions, and partaking in things that include social influencing. It helps us to build a vast network of happy audience around us that regularly visit our posts for some kind of content they like to watch or follow. Such footprints include

  1. positive comments,
  2. reviews and
  3. content that is shared across various digital channels, such as
  • Blogs,
  • Social Media, and
  • Websites

Now, the positive digital footprint helps create trust and credibility with clients, teammates, and the general public.

  1. What is an Active digital footprint?

You can take an active digital footprint as your brand building which includes regular updates and maintenance while keeping the online presence. In the process of an active digital footprint, the users self-post things, such as

  1. Blogging,
  2. Posting on Social Media,
  3. Responding to Comments, and
  4. Engaging with Other Users.

4. What is a Passive Digital Footprint?

In this kind of digital footprint, a person’s data is posted by someone else, which creates an online presence for the user without their consent and knowledge. However, you’ll see yourself in the posts posted by someone else on their social media account, or sometimes it can be a fanbase page. Such posts include

  1. Comments,
  2. Reviews,
  3. Images,
  4. or posts.

Sometimes users’ browsing history or location data can be the cause of their online digital footprint.

  1. Can you erase your digital footprint?

Well, that’s not fully impossible; however, it is impossible to destroy them fully. One of the ways to destroy your footprint from social media is to delete your accounts from websites. Other is that you can limit your online data sharing while using privacy settings to limit access to your data.

  1. Is there any website for digital footprint?

Of course, there is a huge number of websites offering data & resources related to digital footprints. Some of the websites are as follows:

  • Digital Footprint Network
  • Digital Footprint Solutions
  • Digital Footprint Project
  • Digital Footprint Institute
  • Digital Footprint Research Institute
  • Digital Footprint Security
  • My Digital Footprint
  • Digital Footprint Tracker
  • Digital Footprint Analysis
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse – Digital Footprint Resources
  1. Who can see my digital footprint?

Your Digital Footprint could be seen by anyone online. No matter who they are. Some of them could be

  1. Family & Friends,
  2. Strangers,
  3. Employers,
  4. Advertisers, and
  5. Anonymous People.

 

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