If you have been using the internet to make just about any online transaction, chances are you have an active digital ghost. And you need to know what to do with it.
Whenever you use the internet to socialize, shop, sell, send or receive payments, you leave behind a trail of relatively permanent information known as your digital footprint. It’s like your digital ghost that describes your profile and stays active long after you stopped using an app or a website or a social media channel.
Does it sound spooky? If your private information falls into the wrong hands, it can become scary in real life.
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The type of personal information could be anything like your name and address to more specific data like hospital records, tax return details or banking information. Cybercriminals might steal and sell it in the black market and you could be the next victim of identity theft.
Simply opening up an online account means a password has been created. Yet more than half (54%) of people surveyed by Kaspersky said they don’t know how to check if their passwords have been leaked.
This is alarming considering that data breach is one of the common ways that data theft can occur,” Kaspersky said. “A data breach exposes confidential, sensitive, or protected information to an unauthorized person. The files in a data breach are viewed or shared without permission. Anyone can be at risk — from individuals to high-level enterprises and governments.
“With 4.66 billion internet users as of early 2021, more than half of the world’s population are now connected,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, GM for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “Our reliance on technology keeps on growing even while we’re functioning in the middle of a global pandemic. This shows us the need to protect the privacy of our personal data and online interactions all the more today if we want to ensure that technology will continue to play a positive and essential role in our lives,”
To find out how you are keeping your digital ghost active, try to review this list of examples of online activities:
– Buying online from e-commerce websites
– Signing up for coupons or creating an account
– Downloading and using shopping apps
– Registering for brand newsletters
– Using a mobile banking app
– Buying or selling stocks
– Subscribing to financial publications or blogs
– Opening a credit card account
– Using social media on any of your devices
– Logging into other websites using your social media credentials
– Connecting with friends and family
– Sharing information, data, and photos with your connections
– Joining a dating site or app
Reading the news:
– Subscribing to an online news source
– Accessing articles on a news app
– Signing up for a publication’s newsletter
– Reposting articles and information you read
Health and fitness:
– Using fitness trackers
– Using apps to receive healthcare
– Registering your email address with a gym
– Subscribing to health and fitness blogs
How to protect your digital privacy? Here are some recommendations from Kaspersky:
- Use search engines to check. Enter your name into search engines, both first and last names. If any of the results show you in a negative light, contact the site administrator to see if they can remove it. You can also set up Google Alerts to keep an eye on your name.
- Reduce the number of information sources that mention you. If you are not comfortable with websites that share your information such as real estate sites and online white pages, contact the websites and request to remove your information.
- Limit the amount of data you share. Before submitting a form with your personal data to an organization, consider if it’s worth it. Or ask if there are other ways for you to get information or service from them without sharing your data.
- Double check your privacy settings on social media. Review these settings and ensure they are set to a level you are comfortable with.
- Avoid oversharing on social media. Avoid disclosing your phone number or email address in your social media bio. It’s also a good idea to avoid “liking the pages of your own bank, healthcare provider, pharmacy, etc. as this can lead cybercriminals to your critical accounts.
- Avoid unsafe websites. Transact with a secure website —- one that has a security certificate (a clue is when a URL begins with https:// rather than http://) and has a padlock icon to the left of the address bar. Never share any confidential information on unsecured sites, especially payment details.
- Be wary about using public WiFi. Only send personal information when you’re using a secure, private connection because you don’t know who set up the public wifi network or who else might be watching.
- Delete old accounts. Get rid of dormant accounts to minimize your exposure to potential data breaches.
- Create strong passwords and use a password manager. The more complex your password is, the harder it is to crack. Use long passwords with at least 12 characters, a mix of upper and lower case letters plus symbols and numbers. Try to avoid using the same password for all your accounts and change them regularly.
- Keep an eye on your medical records. Practice good hygiene by reviewing your medical records periodically. Identity thieves target medical and health information not just financial data. Criminals may use your personal information to obtain medical treatment in your name. Or in the current scenario, use your COVID vaccine records to their advantage.
- Update your software. Cybercriminals can easily access a victim’s device and data by exploiting vulnerabilities in an outdated software.
- Make use of software with a strong privacy protection feature. Kaspersky Total Security has Private Browsing that stops a website from tracking your activities and collecting your data. It also has Anti-Phishing to protect you from fake websites that can try to steal your identity. The latest version of Kaspersky Total Security (KTS) has also been enhanced to detect the latest and most sophisticated phishing scams.