Your fingerprint is the trace you leave behind every time you use the internet. Sure, your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles qualify as a fingerprint, but they’re the ones you’re most aware of.
It is troubling when you are not aware of the path you are taking and the information and data involved. Your fingerprint can have serious implications, even if it seems insignificant.
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While leaving your browsing habits and history behind, along with the personal information you share on social media, may not necessarily set off an alarm bell in your head, your fingerprint can turn you on in a myriad of chilling ways …
You are prone to phishing and social engineering attacks
To lay the groundwork: A phishing attack occurs when the attacker tricks you into delivering sensitive information to you , usually via emails and fake web pages that closely mimic those you trust.
Social engineering attacks use the above methods along with phone calls and direct messaging to psychologically manipulate you into providing your information.
You’re probably used to phishing emails containing promises of inherited wealth or asking you to update your account information from a bank account you don’t have. Those are easy to detect and to laugh about.
However, the risk increases the more an attacker knows about you. Then, they may contact you about the services and websites you use. Maybe he even uses your full name to sound authentic. These targeted attacks are much harder for most people to detect and you only need to be fooled once.
Lack of privacy
The United Nations declared privacy as a basic human right over 50 years ago. Yet nowadays, it is difficult to maintain even an iota of privacy.
Put simply, think of lack of privacy as having a private conversation with a friend on a public forum or bulletin board instead of your messaging app. There are countless drawbacks to not having adequate privacy, from a lack of authenticity to a lack of anonymity when needed because everything about you is out in the open.
Future employment problems
In the United States, 96% of employers perform at least a background check on candidates before hiring. While a criminal record might be the first thing that comes to mind, thinking you have nothing to hide, the problem goes much deeper.
With social media websites around for nearly 20 years, your fingerprint could extend to when you were a young teenager. Due to the countless services that perform thorough background checks for companies, your employer may end up seeing your old social media posts where you may have said something rude or inappropriate.
Incidents like this can distort the first impression your employer has of you and even cost you your job.
Prone to stalking
Without the internet and social media, in order for someone to persecute you, they would have to drop everything and spend all their time following you. Furthermore, it is easier to notice and report this type of stalking.
Nowadays, a person on the other side of the world can learn about the private details of your life at the push of a button. From who your family and friends are, to your hobbies, to how you spend your time, where you work or go to school and – if you’re not careful – where you live.
Easy to impersonate
Unlike identity theft or fraud, identity theft can directly affect your social life and reputation. If you have tons of personal pictures and you often share personal information about yourself, it’s easy for someone to impersonate you online.
This is especially true on social media platforms that don’t require a lot of substance, like Twitter. All they need is a dozen selfies of you, some basic information about you, and an example of how you write while browsing your social media.
So… go offline?
No. Going offline is excessive. There are countless benefits to social media and the internet. You need to be smarter in terms of what information you share with which websites and apps.
Minimizing your fingerprint doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need to implement small changes in your online habits and are instantly more confident than most internet users.
The right to be forgotten
The right to be forgotten is the right to permanently erase all personal information about you from the Internet. This concept is arousing worldwide interest and will most likely become a global phenomenon in the near future.
While it is currently only applicable in the European Union and a handful of other countries, you can take advantage of it when using European websites or using a VPN that disguises your IP into a European one.
Use people online
Unless you’re signing up for an official service that requires proof of identity, you should make the most of online characters. By having a pseudonym for your social media profiles, you can still connect and stay in touch with family and friends, but acquaintances and strangers will not be able to identify you.
It is also useful if your information is involved in a data leak; with everything faked, you will remain mostly anonymous. It will also ensure that your other accounts with your real name are not linked to the leaked one, providing them with a higher level of security.
Use temporary credentials
Using disposable or temporary credentials may not be ideal for everything as you won’t be able to receive important notifications or recover your password if you lose it. But you can use them effectively for websites or services that you would only use once or twice. It is also ideal for receiving files via email without revealing your primary address.
Delete old accounts
Not to mention, the more databases contain your personal information, such as email address, phone number, and password, the more likely they are to be in a breach or leak that would expose them.
In case you were wondering, this is the number of annoying spam emails and callers that get your contact information.
Falsifying your information
This will only take five minutes and is smarter than receiving 13 spam emails a day.
Privacy doesn’t have to be difficult
Maintaining a sense of privacy doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all technology and going to live in the woods. Practicing proper internet hygiene is only a few steps away, but it’s worth it in the long run.