What is a Digital Footprint and How to Protect It? Everything You Need to Know

Written By Mohit Kumar Jha  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On April 20th, 2023
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading

Digital footprints are the online trails left behind by a user while performing any activities, actions, communications, as well as contributions over the internet. The digital footprint often becomes the loophole from where cybercrime can find its way.

According to the UK’s government authority CPNI (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure), a digital footprint is specific data that a person leaves behind while using any digital services like emails, social networks, online purchases, etc. 

Additionally, when we talk about organizations, they too have their digital footprint, any information shared on the web including social media accounts, websites, PR mentions, employee posts, blogs, customer reviews, and even mentions on other websites, creates a digital footprint for organizations.

What is the Importance of a Digital Footprint?

Digital Footprint is used for various purposes such as – showing targeted ads to individuals, and creating a “persona” for business organizations, but most importantly it can also be leveraged by hackers to gain crucial information about individuals or organizations to plan and execute targeted cyber-attacks such as phishing, ransomware, identity theft, and many more.

Thus, we can say that a digital footprint can be an asset or a liability, for an individual or organization depending upon their activity over the web. 

digital footprint

Important Tips for Organizations to Protect Their Digital Footprints

Let’s learn about the ways that you can use to protect your organizational digital footprint from attackers. 

Beware of URL Hijacking

Hackers always look for a domain name that is similar to the victims’ business such as – ‘.net’ instead of ‘.com’. That they later use it, to plan a phishing attack for the audience of that organization. Hence, it is recommended to look up your organization’s domain info with different TLDs in order to identify typosquatting or URL hijacking.

Check for Exposed Credentials 

Hackers frequently reveal stolen credentials and confidential information on the web and make their strategies for cyber attacks.  Hence, you should always adhere to a Password Change Policy (PCP) in your organization to protect your sensitive information. And always check the web for credential dumps related to your organization and its employees. 

Moreover, observe and examine data leak scenarios from popular platforms such as LinkedIn, and Instagram, as your employees might have their accounts on those platforms.  

Monitor The Deep & Dark Web

Monitoring the deep/dark web for digital footprints can have a real business impact; it can protect your organization from cyber threats, financial implications, and reputational impacts that may occur if your digital footprints are not properly monitored. Hence, always search and investigate the deep/dark web for relevant information related to your organization. 

Check For Open Ports

Open ports are very dangerous from an organization’s safety point of view. As they possess direct cyber threats, attackers can exploit security vulnerabilities through these open ports to gain unauthorized access to sensitive databases or gain remote access to your system. Hence, you should always monitor open ports on your public-facing IPs available on the web.

Limit Document Sharing

While sharing the documents on an organizational level, prohibit public access file-sharing platforms, as it does impact overall security and privacy. The metadata and contents can potentially be accessed by an attacker which can eventually cause a data leak. Moreover, if you want to share confidential documents then make sure to apply proper settings and assign permissions to only the intended users for accessing the data.

Remove Inactive/Exited Employee Accounts

When an employee leaves your organization, he remains accessible to all your crucial data, and intentionally or unintentionally it can be used to create data leaks. Moreover, it also poses various cyber threats as well. Hence, you should deactivate, and disable access to their respective accounts immediately.

Onboard Cyber Threat Intelligence Services

The first step is to Identify the negative digital footprints, but the second and more important step is to take steps to address them. Digital footprint trails are left by all types of businesses. In order to monitor them you need proven methodologies and an industry-leading team of experts who can tackle negative digital footprints on time.

SysTools Cyber Security Services help you monitor and collect digital footprints available on the dark web, deep web, and public domain around the clock. In addition, we offer you unparalleled security and visibility to identify and mitigate potential attacks, detect data breaches, and protect your organization against current and future cyber threats.

Also, if you witness any suspicious activity, immediately report it to your cyber security team to mitigate the cyber threat/incident before it compromises any critical organizational data. Or reach out to our professional Digital Forensics Services team for further assistance.

Final Thought

Digital footprints are vital for businesses of all types and we can not get rid of them totally. As, they can be beneficial as well as harmful in several ways, depending upon their handling. However, by onboarding the right professional cyber security services you can protect yourself and your organization from the negative aspects of digital footprints.