While “digital footprint” is a somewhat porous term, it is a useful description for activities that involve divulging data or sensitive information online. As far as definitions go, we like this simple one from Allstate Identity Protection:
Your digital footprint is a record of your online activity. It shows where you've been on the internet and the data you’ve left behind. Your footprint grows when you deliberately share something online, or when sites and apps track your activity without your permission. When your data falls into the wrong hands, you could be at risk of identity theft.
In an interview with Authority Magazine, Bitwarden CTO Kyle Spearrin stated: “Be careful with the breadcrumbs that you leave behind in your digital footprints. Try to use best practices for cleaning up your digital waste, and don’t share more information than necessary on the internet.”
Below, we expand on this.
The first recommendation is the most simple one, but it is probably the most overlooked. One of the most effective ways to protect your digital footprint is to avoid sharing personally identifiable or sensitive information unless absolutely necessary. This may include financial information, location, social security numbers, and the names of children, spouses, or significant others.
While it’s tempting to share personal information over social media, the temporary satisfaction that comes from opening up to others isn’t worth the potential headache. Share enough personally identifiable information and sooner or later you may fall victim to a social engineering attack or identify theft.
Need to share passwords, social security numbers, or financial documents with another person? Most users likely default to sharing via SMS, email, or other common messaging services. The better option is to utilize an encrypted tool that can share sensitive information. Fortunately, there are a number of them on the market. One of them is Bitwarden Send, which enables Bitwarden users to share information - such as a file or text - with another person for a limited period of time. The information is protected with end-to-end encryption and users can choose an expiration date for the Send link, after which it no longer works to access the information.
One of the most effective ways you can protect your digital footprint is to use a password manager.
When creating accounts and logging in and out of websites, you leave behind a digital footprint. In many cases, that footprint might involve personal or financial information, likely protected by a username and password. But is that password strong and unique for each and every account you’re logging into? Realistically, the answer is no. According to the Bitwarden 2023 World Password Day Survey, 85% of respondents reuse passwords across multiple sites. Even more astonishing, 26% of those who reuse passwords have been reusing the same password for more than a decade, and 60% have used the same password for 3+ years.
Staying safe from data breaches hinges upon the use of strong and unique passwords - but remembering all of them gets challenging. That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers like Bitwarden generate, store, and secure user data in an end-to-end encrypted vault. Bitwarden also integrates with two-factor authentication (2FA), which further bolsters security for users logging into websites and applications.
If you’re concerned about the nature of your online searches and how that information could be leveraged, consider using a private search engine. Options popular among the Bitwarden community include DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com, and Qwant. They keep search activity anonymous, do not sell data, and do not track online activity.