The internet nowadays knows where you live, what you like to eat, what interests you have in movies, and other aspects of your personality and behavior that may be noticeable only to the people closest to you.
According to a GetApp survey, 91% of US consumers believe ads know too much personal information about them.
Unfortunately, completely removing personal information from websites is nearly impossible. Still, there are many steps you can take to minimize your digital footprint and make it more challenging for hackers to take advantage of your data.
When fraudsters obtain your personal information, it can lead to severe consequences. For example, they could use your name and other personal information to steal your identity, send phishing emails, jeopardize your financial status, and even harass or stalk you in person.
But before we get into the steps by which we can remove personal information from the internet, we need to know how it reached there in the first place. So let’s look at some of the sources via which your data is vulnerably present on the interment.
Social networking sites: Social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., store almost every piece of important information: the day you were born, your likes and dislikes, your social media behavior that eventually determines your behavior in general. To keep yourself safe, avoid giving too much information online on social networking sites.
E-commerce websites: It is nearly impossible to remember every password for every site. This makes us save our passwords in the auto-fill option, including the online shopping sites. Data breachers will sneak into customers’ personal information and steal it to cater to their own illegal and foul means. It is essential to make sure one does not save their usernames and passwords on e-commerce websites and put all the information manually.
Blogging: Perhaps you love reading, and you cannot stop yourself subscribing to your new favorite blogger. This may cause your valuable information serious threat. The blogging websites may also collect cookies.
Online friends: In this fast world of technology, it is inevitable not to have online friends. On the other hand, many of us have friends online whom we can trust with a blindfold on our eyes. But that does not mean that we ignore where our information is going.
If you feel suspicious about an online friend or acquaintance, use Nuwber to verify that person’s identity. Put their name in the search bar and see what information comes. This way, your data will always stay protected from unwanted eyes.
We have talked about some of the things that lead us to have our information public on online platforms. Here are some of the ways we can stay cautious:
It takes time to remove your personal information from the internet, so you need to stay calm and not expect it to be done in a single day. Instead, take a systematic approach, focusing on one technique at a time.
Look into your computer data: Your browser history contains a wealth of personal info, such as the sites you visit, credentials and passwords, cached files. When a hacker gets access to your gadget, they also get access to that information. Most of it is easily removed: clear the browsing history and delete cookies, install and use security software with online privacy features regularly.
Remain untraceable online: You’ve probably seen “cookies” disclaimers while browsing the web. That is the technology that keeps track of your browsing practices. In case you do not want that information monitored, consider using security software with anti-online tracking features.
You must also be aware of your browser’s do-not-track features. Google’s Incognito mode on the Chrome browser, for example, will not save your web browsing history, site data and cookies, or any information you’ve left in forms.
Delete unnecessary applications from your phone: Many phone and tablet apps collect personal information, be it your name, email, phone number, or location. This information might be stolen, and if it falls into the hands of a scammer or a fraud, your finances may be jeopardized. Therefore, it is best to delete all those applications you haven’t opened for months.
Delete inactive accounts: The applications you aren’t using still have your vital information in the form of your stored account database. Therefore, it is essential to know that you first need to delete your account on that application before deleting the app itself.
Contact data brokers to delete your information: If you Google your name right now, you’ll be astounded at how much personal information is available for all to see.
According to EU and US data privacy laws, most data brokers must provide consumers with the option to opt out of having their information shared online. A simple Google search will bring up the largest and most reputable data brokers.
Sites like OneRep and PrivacyDuck are just a few services that offer to remove your data from various websites. This is usually done once a month. They also provide package deals for more than one person as well as family packages.
If you decide to go the manual route for removing your information, keep track of the sites you visit. It might also be a good idea to return to some of them and double-check whether your data is truly gone.
Conclusion: There will always be exceptions: It may be impossible to delete all of your information from the internet permanently.
Furthermore, suppose you delete any profiles or information. In that case, you may no longer appear in search results, which may turn off future employers and potential love interests. However, the time, effort, and absence of the internet can assist you in protecting your information and finances.