Since the internet has evolved we have started exploring new things and internet usage is increasing day by day. Nowadays as the internet is the most popular source of information but because of fraudsters, our privacy is also in danger if we are not using it carefully. We can hear lots of cybercrime-related news in our daily life. So we must explore anything on the internet very carefully. There is a term for digital footprints which helps fraudsters to give access to our various information and which fall us in danger. So are you aware of digital footprints? If not then let us know about digital footprints in detail.

What Is Digital Footprint?

Every data left behind by a user on digital services is known as a digital footprint. All the actions committed by someone in digital environments are recorded. Whenever we post something on any social media platform, visit any website to get some information, purchase something online, book any hotel or ticket, etc. everything is recorded. In the other words, digital footprints are the online portfolios of what we are, what we do, and what we know. Digital footprints are also known as internet footprints, digital shadows, or cyber shadows. The digital footprints of any person measure the size of that person's online presence. 

Types Of Digital Footprints:

Active Footprints 

Whenever we deliberately release the personal data of someone because of sharing information about that person it creates active footprints of that person. It can also be stored in many ways as per the situation. whenever we log in to any digital platform and fill in our details, share or edit any post on a digital platform, an active footprint is stored on the platform. Not only in the online environment we are also leaving active footprints in the offline environment. Whenever a user uses a keylogger on their computer, then the log can show all the actions performed by the user and who performed the action. Examples of active digital footprints: are blogs, articles, photos, videos, or anything else we may post on any online platform. Blog comments, Documents uploaded by us, Facebook posts, shares, likes, tweets on Twitter, online interactions with others, LinkedIn profile, etc.

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Passive Digital Footprints

A passive digital footprintS can be stored by an action without any client activation. It can be stored in many ways as per the situation. All online platforms use databases to collect and store their user's actions and pieces of information, the digital footprints can store in that database as a "hit". These types of footprints can be used to track the user's IP address, when it was created and where it came from. A passive footprint can also be stored in the offline environment, it can be stored in files, and the administrator can access it and view all the actions performed on the machine, but in this footprint, the administrator can't view who performed the action. Examples of passive digital footprints: information regarding you shared by others on the internet, every action you perform in the online environment is recorded. Profile on Facebook, your photos posted by you, your friends, or your family members, and anything you have ever written: blogs, emails, and chat rooms are also examples of passive digital footprints.

Significance Of Digital Footprints

  • These trails are used by online predators to prey on their victims.
  • Start from the moment your computer or smartphone logs online.
  • Easily accessible data collected by websites via malware or by law enforcement using court orders or search warrants.
  • On the source computer as well as remote websites like social networks, email services, webpages, search engines, etc., digital footprints are stored.

Consequences Of Our Digital Footprints

  • Leaving a digital trail can have a variety of negative effects, from identity theft to being humiliated by specific social media postings or photos. It is crucial that you use caution when deciding what information you disclose online and that you take steps to protect your identity.
  • Your digital footprints can reveal lots of information like, who you know, where you are, where you have been, where you work, your opinion regarding some issues, your hobbies and interests, what you like, and more.
  • Consequences of many types, including social, professional, and financial ones, may result from your digital footprints. Children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to social repercussions from their digital footprints. Some people are unaware that the posts they make on social media websites are public and will remain there for all time. Other individuals may publish offensive images of them and other critical comments, which could embarrass them or perhaps make matters worse.
  • Your financial situation could suffer as a result of your digital footprint. If you are careless, hackers and other cybercriminals may gain access to your private information. Identity theft or financial fraud may result from this. When entering any sort of identifying information online, you should always take precautions.

Creating A Positive Digital Footprint

You can utilize your digital footprints to create a positive impact like showcasing your skills, experiences, interests, and academic achievements. You can include all the things in which you have expertise like writing, movie making, artwork, animation, and music.

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How Can You Manage Your Digital Footprints?

There are the following ways to manage digital footprints:

Update Privacy Settings On Social Media Platforms

All social media like Facebook and Instagram offers privacy setting like who can see your posts, your profile, and information. Makes these settings not enabled for the public, and limit these settings for your friends.

You can of course delete your social accounts but if anyone has already collected enough information about you, can probably trace your profile.

Delete Cookies

Whenever we need any information we open our browsers and type some words on the search engine of our browser and get the necessary information. But the websites we visit for information use cookies to collect our information those cookies are stored in our browsers. So deleting cookies is a simple way to ensure safe browsing without a trail. You can delete cookies by accessing the preferences option in any browser and clicking on the "delete cookies" option.

Other Ways To Manage Your Digital Footprints

  • Always keep your personal details private.
  • While creating any social profile use a nickname instead of using your real name.
  • You should never share passwords or usernames of your social accounts or any other digital services with anyone.
  • You must think carefully before posting anything on any social media because once you posted anything on social media then it can't be easily removed from there.
  • Never share anything that you don't want others to know.
  • Never share any information related to others without their permission. For example, if you are posting you have captured a photo with your friends and you are sharing their picture on social media without their permission then you putting their privacy at risk.