Digital Cleanup: Best Practices for Securing Your Personal Data Online

Your online activity, meaning the pages you browse, your web subscriptions, online purchases and recent searches, can stick around forever, leaving behind a digital footprint. A digital footprint is essentially a trail of all of your online activity. This may include online payments, video or images you upload and just about any other transmission of information online. That trail can quietly collect and display personal information you want to keep private and can follow you around for years.

Here are some tips for you to clean up your digital footprint to take back control of where you live online.

Update the Email Subscriptions

Chances are you’re still getting some emails you no longer read or care about. Spend some time flagging those unwanted missives – but don’t just delete them – unsubscribe from them. Many “unsubscribe” buttons are located at the end of an email and most provide the option to lessen the frequency of emails you receive from them. If you have email notifications enabled on your mobile device, they’re wasting data and battery life every time they arrive.

Delete Unused Accounts

Assuming you’ve been using the internet for any length of time, you have probably signed up for websites that you later stopped using and forgot about.

Whatever information you gave to that site — whether an old social media platform, blog, dating site– could still be publicly accessible to people or companies, so take the time to clean up and delete old accounts on sites you no longer use. A good way to find these old and potentially forgotten profiles is with the site Pipl, which lets you do a deep search for profiles matching your name, email address or username.

Review Privacy Settings

Most social media platforms have privacy settings where you can choose what information the site collects about you and who gets to see what you post.

Even if you don’t care what the site itself knows about you, it may be worth double-checking that the things you post are going to the audience you intended — and vice-versa. It’s important to conduct a routine check, review your privacy settings and keep them current to ensure that your digital footprint is safe.

Keep Security Software Current

Malware programs and viruses are constantly finding new ways to get into your devices and get your information. Keeping your software up to date can help stay ahead of these malicious intruders.

This goes for your antivirus software if you use it on any devices, as well as the general updates to your device’s software and any individual app updates.

Check your settings, as many people turn off automatic updates or software downloads to save data or battery life. This can be useful, but if left for too long between updates, can expose you to additional security risks.

Staying consistent with the tips listed above is critical to managing your digital footprint. It is recommended to perform these simple steps every six months to ensure that your online activity is always protected.

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