Every time you open an online game, watch a YouTube video or even share a message or file over the internet, you leave a trace- your digital footprint. Whenever you go online, you create a digital trail unique and traceable to you. Your ‘secret’ or ‘personal’ chats aren’t private. Your digital footprint is essentially nothing but information- who you are and your activities online.
Your digital identity attributes consist of an IP address, email, and mobile phone and related service characteristics. By finding the associated digital identity of the footprint, cybersecurity experts can figure out your exact identity. Everyone using the Internet has a digital footprint; the opposite can’t be so.
Everyone has heard the term ‘Cookies’ but, not many know what it is. Have you ever searched for something on amazon and then seen the same ads on a different website?
A cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the web browser while the user is browsing. The website you are currently on or third-party websites can use this data to display ads.
Most of us feel that ‘VPNs’ or Virtually Protected Networks are untraceable routes to access the net. VPNs hide your information and digital footprint from the public network but a digital trail on the private network gets created. If you are connecting to a VPN server, courtesy of your Internet Service Provider, Cyber police can approach the VPN company and ask them to monitor you and reveal your activity logs. These logs can show the IP addresses you had used. By joining the dots, the police can figure out if you were present at the time of the crime or not. Secondly, if you use online services like google and outlook, these companies can track you even if you use a VPN. VPNs do help against hackers and other cybercriminals and can be very useful to us if used properly.
Therefore, it is important to understand the permanence of your online activities and the consequences of sharing private information on social media. We should follow netiquettes and monitor ourselves while using the internet.
– Siddhant Gandhi