How Big is Your Cyber Footprint?
Not many people really understand how big of a cyber footprint they are leaving. Each website you visit, each Tweet, Facebook status, and search you perform leaves its traces on the internet.
Even if you delete a post, it is still out there somewhere in cyberspace. Every forum post you make can be brought up on a search engine as well as comments on blogs. This can be a sobering thought. What you thought was cool in college may come back to haunt you one day when you're trying to get a job, or are up for promotion.
Last August, Google's chief executive issued a warning about putting your private information on the internet. The New Zealand Herald gives some examples of how putting too much information on the net ended up getting them in trouble.
One unfortunate homeowner was fined for not having the proper permits after a council inspector noticed changes to his home on Google Earth. What could have possibly alerted the inspector were posts on social networks by the homeowner.
Young people are the worst offenders when it comes to posting too much personal information, but people 30 and over were also guilty. It is a natural tendency to want to share your experiences, and instead of visiting the neighborhood coffee shop or pub, this information is now posted all over social networks.
A survey in New Zealand revealed that over 50% of Kiwis thought social network sites were private. The only way your information remains private on social networks is to manage your privacy settings. You should take for granted all privacy settings are set on public. It is best to check yours and make adjustments.
While there's nothing you can really do about what is already out there, you can take precautions and reduce your current and future cyber footprint. If you want to make sure your cyber footprint can't be used against you, treat your internet persona like you would your personal one.
Don't be rude, offense, or bad mouth anyone online. This is especially true of your boss. Many companies now regularly monitor their employee's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Like in real life, if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it online.
Some other tips include using a VPN when on a wi-fi network. This will keep your data from being intercepted and compromised. Keep your passwords private. Don't give them to anyone.
All a criminal or hacker needs is your password and they can access your social media accounts, email, and bank accounts. Your cyber footprint may be out there forever, but with smart use of social networks and awareness you can help keep it from stomping on you later.