Your digital footprint is the trail of data left behind from all your online activity. Anything you share or do online—whether visiting a website, making a purchase, or interacting on social media—contribute to your digital footprint.
Your digital footprint is essentially an online portrait of yourself, accumulating into a detailed record of where you’ve been, what data you've shared, and any traces you’ve left behind in the process. The more active you are online, the larger your digital footprint grows—and so do the associated security risks.
While much of the information that makes up your digital footprint is a result of information you intentionally shared online, like signing up for a newsletter or sharing photos on your social media accounts, there are less obvious types of data that contribute to your footprint as well. This data falls into two main categories: active and passive.
Active Digital Footprints
An active digital footprint is related to any deliberate online activity you’ve participated in, such as:
- Posting on social media
- Logging in to a website
- Submitting an online form, like subscribing to a newsletter
- Agreeing to accept cookies on your browser
Passive Digital Footprints
On the other hand, passive digital footprints relate to data that is tracked and collected online without your direct knowledge or involvement. This includes:
- Websites documenting how often you visit their page
- Websites scanning your browsing history
- Websites documenting how you arrived on their site
- Websites that track your IP address and location
- Social networking sites use data about your likes, shares, and comments to present you with targeted content
Regardless of where the data in your digital footprint originates from, it can always be subject to active or passive collection by third parties online. As soon as your data is shared online, you no longer have sole authority over how it’s used. With so much online activity making up much of our digitally-driven lives, it’s important to understand that anything you do online can ultimately be traced. That’s why taking ownership of your digital footprint is vital to protecting your security online.
As cybercrime continues to rise, it’s more critical than ever to take ownership of your digital footprint in order to stay secure and protected online. To learn more about digital footprints and how you can reduce and secure yours, check out this infographic by Panda Security below.
Infographic by Panda Security