Learning how to reduce your digital footprint (your personal digital footprint) while keeping your business footprint is important in keeping cyber attackers from personally exploiting yours (or an employee’s) information to get to sensitive business information, accesses, or money.

When a cyber criminal attempts to hack a target business or individual, they can use a method called “foot-printing”, which consists of using primarily passive means of gathering advantageous information about a target to a hacker. “Passive” means that you’d never be able to tell that someone was looking for information about you or your business in order to target it for hacking. So, this also means that your “footprint” is what anyone can find out about you in the public domain without alerting you that they are looking for information about you, and in this case, what a malicious hacker can find out about you to use to their advantage.

Your footprint could easily reveal information about your computer network, your office contacts and their email addresses, what kinds of devices or machines you have, and more. All of this can lead to a way into your computer systems, your money, and your life. This is what cyber criminals do and it works very well. Minimizing this footprint will make it harder or inconvenient for a cyber criminal to conduct recon on you as an easy target.

Identity Footprint Risk Assessment

This post is about minimizing your footprint to protect your identity as well as protect your business. Foot-printing (or reconnaissance) is usually the first step for any hacker targeting a person or organization.

Your online footprint consists of the aggregation of many bits and pieces of your life recorded in digital records.

When a cyber criminal looks at the footprint of a business, they are looking to uncover the least resistance into an organization or into someone’s money/life. Security wise, your goal should be to:

  • Have NO online/offline information that reveals detailed aspects of your business operations and IT infrastructure
  • Have NO online/offline information that reveals compromising information about yourself or your employees
  • You basically want to leave NO information that a cyber criminal can use against you, your employees, or your business

When we mention to not post a particular piece of information online, we mean to not post said information on your website, your social media pages, etc., anywhere and everywhere online. Assume that anything posted on the internet will stay on the public internet forever and on the internet’s archive pages.

For example, if you’re looking to keep your home address private from people on the internet, perhaps when you first register your business with the state that you live in to be, say, to be an LLC, don’t do it until you have a business mailing address that isn’t your home address. That is unless your business is operated purely out of your home. Your home address may forever be on the internet as a business location record that anyone can look up, even if you issue an address change.

Here is a list to follow to help you reducing your digital footprint, ensuring that you don’t reveal too much information that someone can use:

Hopefully in this brief article, you learned how to reduce your digital footprint. In regards to your name, address, and phone number being freely available online, there are services that you can pay for that can manually take you off these databases and lists on the internet. One well known service is Reputation Defender, and while they offer many “reputation defending” services, we’re referring to their Privacy services.

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