Cyber Security Footprint Graphic

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Created in 2004, Cybersecurity Awareness Month encourages individuals to think about digital security and protect themselves online.

Many social media users believe they have more control online than they really do. With or without your knowledge, your internet activity and information is being documented and collected.

Your digital footprint is essentially the collection of everything you do online. Understanding the importance of a digital footprint is the first step to protecting it.

Listed below is advice on how to safeguard your digital footprint with input from two LSU professors: Golden G. Richard III, associate director for cybersecurity, and Joshua Howard, social media and digital advertising professor.

1.    Keeping a presentable account 

As a college student heading into your career, you should aim to protect your digital footprint because, in simple words, it is permanent.

Professionals in your field will research you, especially when you’re applying for an internship or job. Social media accounts can say a lot about people and contribute to the first impression an employer has. Professionals are more likely to hire and work with someone who has a clean, purposeful account, highlighting your accomplishments and the concepts you represent.

2.    Getting rid of the past

Avoid posts that are questionable, unintentional and make your account seem as if you are careless.

“While things you did in the past might be written as ‘errors of youth,’ patterns of apparent behavior create distinct impressions and individuals will likely have no ability to rebut these things,” Richard said.

Howard recently helped a political candidate prepare for their campaign by researching their digital footprint.

“We went through ten years’ worth of Google searches and their social media channels to gauge any and all things that could help and harm their campaign,” Howard said. “Luckily for them, there wasn’t much to change, delete or prepare for, but sadly that’s not always the case. I’ve personally seen individuals’ futures blow up because of things they’ve done and said online.” 

3.    Being safe 

Richard warns that a digital footprint collects both things a user deliberately and consciously does, like posts on Facebook or Twitter, and things a user is less aware of, such as location and time data, and user preferences of various kinds.

Here are a few suggested steps to promote online safety:

  • Go to settings on your devices, check your privacy settings and disable location tracking.
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists and deactivate old accounts.
  • Use virtual private networks, or VPNs, when using the internet.
  • Make sure to log out from public devices, such as classroom computers.

4.    Asking yourself these questions

Howard suggests asking yourself these four questions next time you plan on posting, liking or commenting: 

  • “Will most moms find this activity presentable?”
  • “Will I be employed by most places, or will I be forced to start my own company?”
  • “Will in the future I love to tell this story?”
  • “Would ‘The Internet’ cancel me for posting this?” 

Crumbs are always being left behind every time you are online. That is why it is important you watch your online activity, as it can seriously affect your future. 

Load comments