Remember your MySpace account? Or when your significant other wanted you to create a TikTok account so that you could make fun videos – which happened once, and you realized you would never do THAT again. These accounts are all your identities floating around in cyberspace, waiting to be rediscovered and perhaps manipulated against…you. Old passwords, photos, posts on what you thought, or how you felt in reaction to what someone else said. It’s all out there. And just because you’ve outgrown that version of yourself, or moved on from lack of interest, doesn’t mean those things have disappeared from the cyberworld.
That Isn’t Me!
It might not be you or your thoughts now, but it was back then. Yes, you might be ok if someone discovers that photo of you in a bathing suit from 10 years ago, but are you ok if they see the image of you doing keg stands on fraternity row? That might not be the best look if you’re trying to win over a CEO with your next deal. The images alone present something to deal with, but what we want you to really consider is the amount of personal data that is out there for manipulation. Old passwords, personally identifiable information like your birthdate, phone number, or your street address, and more. While it might seem insignificant now, this data can lead to bigger compromises of current accounts or access to current information. Additionally, as these platforms and systems become antiquated, they are no longer supported which means that they are less likely to be secured from hackers and cybercrime.
Clean It Up
You can’t wipe your existence entirely with one easy swipe. But you can take efforts to ensure that you aren’t leaving your shadows and ghosts out there to haunt you so easily. When you dispose of old hardware, make sure that you are cleaning it up and doing so in the most effective way possible. This means that you should have the data wiped, or if you are an IT professional, offer this service to your clients. Make sure that your current social accounts are on lockdown from the public and that only your “friends” have access. Do a quick internet search of your name and see where you come up. You can work to remove yourself from these searches – and do not forget those old accounts. Think back to the platforms that you once used and are no longer active. Delete the information on there and remove the account if possible, but at the very least, get rid of anything that is linked to the account.
Your digital footprint will continue to grow as the world relies more and more on electronic files. But you can make a concerted effort to control where you “travel” to and where you stay.
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