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AARNet Cyber Security - Digital Footprint
28 October, 2021

Look after your digital footprint to stay safe online

October 2021 is Cyber Awareness Month. Do your Part #BeCyberSmart.

As soon as you go online, you start creating a trail of information about yourself. This is your digital footprint and it’s important to know what kind of trail you are leaving, what the impact might be, and to take steps to mitigate the risk of your information being misused.

What’s a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is the collection of activities that you have performed online that has accumulated over time, this includes but is not limited to the information you post online (e.g. comments, photos), the websites you visit, online purchases, use of social media (likes, shares, posts), subscriptions and survey submissions etc.

Why does this matter?

As your digital footprint grows, it can be used to track your movements and develop a profile of you online that can be used offline. The information can be used by cyber criminals to target you for phishing campaigns or commit fraud using your details.

What can you do to protect / limit your digital footprint?

Limit the amount of information we share online:

  • Avoid posting personal information that could be used for account recovery purposes, access to your financials or government accounts, such as birthplace, date of birth, pet name, favourite song, education history, address, phone number
  • Deactivate / delete accounts that you no longer use.
  • Review your privacy settings.
  • Enable multifactor authentication over your social media / banking / utility accounts or accounts which hold sensitive / confidential information.

Browse the Internet securely:

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Avoid using public WiFi, if this is not avoidable ensure you use a VPN.
  • Ensure your anti-virus is up-to-date
  • Use a reputable browser, and ensure it is kept up-to-date

Secure your browser:

  • Use an ad-blocker.
  • Block pop-ups.
  • Use private browsing when accessing sensitive sites (e.g. online banking, myGov, large purchases.
  • Disable third party cookies (under browser settings) and where possible review what cookies have been enabled when visiting a site (the non-essential cookies can be disabled).
  • Disable javascript (if it isn’t already disabled by default by your browser of choice)

Secure your mobile apps:

  • Use reputable apps
  • Ensure your apps are up-to-date
  • Limit the information that you share via the app
  • Review your privacy settings

Avoid unsafe websites:

  • Check the URL for the site that you are visiting starts with https:// rather than http:// – the s stands for secure.
  • Check that there is a padlock in the address bar when you’re performing any sensitive activity ((e.g. making an online purchase, accessing your online accounts), this reflects that information is encrypted.

Regularly clear your inbox:

  • Periodically clean out your emails in particular sensitive documents (e.g. identification documents, mails / documents containing your personal details)