You walk along a sandy beach and turn around to see your foot steps in the sand. This image is so powerful that it has been used by religions and sages throughout the ages. Think about the trail that was left in the sand and how apt that metaphor is for our digital lives. Everywhere we go and everything we do in the digital world leaves a trail as clear as those footsteps in the sand for those with the right access and technical skills. Where does that digital trail go, and who can follow it? This is not a very simple question to answer, but as you peel the onion back, you can start getting a little nervous about just who can get access to what…
I was on at the airport today and had a great conversation with a student studying information security. Our conversation made me think, and I took a few notes as we were talking. This post is a partial result of our chat – Thank you Mark for the conversation, and I wish you the best in your studies!
I am no conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination nor do I have my head buried in the sand. I do not believe that every corporation is out to get your information, every government is monitoring every mouse click, or there is a fleet of hackers trying to steal your specific identity. That being said, a digital trail is real and anyone’s actions on a computer or network, including the Internet, is subject to monitoring. Yes, there are a lot of bad people online, and they do very bad things if given the chance. So, I work not to give them a chance wherever and whenever possible.
Exercise good judgment is the first and foremost consideration. If your digital life was presented before you would it be a comfortable experience or would you start feeling a little squeamish?
The Internet is not anonymous so don’t treat it that way. Always expect that your identity can be revealed. Accidents happen, either by the digital service providers revealing information that may not have intended to be public or by the user’s own mistakes in using the service. This one happens more often than most people realize. Once information gets out into the digital ether, it is very tough to get it back. Always remember, that someday someone might come looking…
Know where you are going and stick with brands (sites, applications, search, and services) that you trust.
Complete a Personal Digital Security Review regularly.
Clean-up after yourself and don’t leave digital scrapes behind if you can help it.
It is all about minimizing your risk for being digitally hurt. Some good common sense will go a long way to make sure that no unpleasant surprises pop up when you least expect or afford it.