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Six tips to help keep your digital footprint safe

Date: 10 January 2022

2 minute read

Quilter’s Information Security experts share their thoughts on how you can protect your digital footprint.

Social media has been a game changer in the way we live our modern lives: in the way we do business, connect with people, how we learn, and share information, and of course it kept us connected through lockdowns.

But every time we interact with any social media platform (from Facebook to fitness tracking apps to ‘professional’ sites like LinkedIn), we give away information about ourselves. This creates our ‘Digital Footprint’ that, when added up and layered from a variety of sources, can paint a very accurate picture of ourselves. So much so, that according to this 2015 study, Facebook can predict your personality better than your parents or best friends.

Publicly available information we give to social media is therefore a gold mine for a cybercriminal, and can leave us open to scams and fraud. 

Psychological insight:

On Social Media apps, many default settings use motivational triggers causing us to use the apps more often and for longer than we would necessarily wish as. These triggers include:

  • push notifications (that trigger sounds and lights on our phone until addressed);
  • ‘unread’ icons;
  • ‘social proof’ (‘your contact just posted to…’);
  • ‘nudge’ tactics – such as always keeping us signed in for ‘ease’;

Powerful algorithms also drive us towards content we are more likely to interact with, in both positive and negative ways – making an outraged comment on a post that invokes your ire is a surefire way to ensure you see more of that type of post.

Six tips to keep you safe on social media

Take a look at YOUR digital footprint: what information is available about you online? How can it be layered with other data to reveal more about you?

  1. Search for yourself using a few different search engines – what would interest a cybercriminal?
  2. Check your details on ‘HaveIbeenpwned’ website to see if your details have been leaked online
  3. When on social media, treat the ‘about me’ fields as optional – these are not mandatory and may be a wealth of valuable information to an attacker
  4. Become a master of privacy settings: spend some time going through any platforms you are a member of and familiarise yourself with your privacy settings – the NCSC has more advice and links to popular privacy settings
  5. Know the people you ‘friend’ or connect with. Take some time to ‘prune’ your connections list on occasion, and exercise caution with any messages from people you don’t personally know – especially if they are asking for information, asking you to click a link, or open an attachment.
  6. Use password managers, create strong passphrases and use multifactor authentication wherever possible: access to your account is extremely valuable and can cause real harm in the wrong hands.

Stay safe from scams

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