Do You Know What Your Online Shadow Looks Like?

Do You Know What Your Online Shadow Looks Like?

The moment you start moving in the offline world, you start being followed by your shadow. The same goes for the online world. But compared to your offline shadow, how much do you know about your online/digital/data one? Do you know how to control it and trace it?

Digital shadow is a result of our daily activities in the digital world, a collection of digital traces we actively or passively leave in it. For example, did you browse for something today? Checked news online? Sent an e-mail? Posted a photo on Facebook? If you did, you left some digital traces out there, and sometimes those traces are not easy to control. They can take different forms, change in ways you cannot predict, attach and connect with undesired data. Digital world is also a habitat for many institutions and companies, not only people, which means that they have digital shadows as well.

What’s the problem?

When you perform actions in a digital world, your data travels through multiple servers in the network until it reaches its final destination. While travelling, your data can be accessed by these servers and you cannot know what happens to your digital shadow. This is where the core of the problem lies.

Some parts of your online presence are open to the public, because you want so. But some data you share online (credit card or medical data) you surely don’t want to share with everybody, or at least you want to have control over sharing of that kind of information.

Your digital shadow is vulnerable and exposed. You need to make it stronger and more resistant!

How to trace your online shadow?

Trace your online footprints

Summer is coming, which explains my photo inspiration. Tracing your footprints online via Trace my shadow is definitely less exotic than this photo, but they made it very simple and interesting, with just the right amount of cautious atmosphere to be felt.

First thing you do with Trace my shadow is choose devices/programs/apps that you use online. Then you can explore your digital traces, see how many you leave in a digital world (categorized per device/program/app) and investigate tools and resources you can use to get rid of those traces. Based on your results, this website will offer you with the most convenient guidelines to protect your privacy.

You can also explore some additional tools for tracking your shadow. iPhone Tracker maps the information that your iPhone is recording about your movements. It doesn’t record anything itself; it only displays files that are already hidden on your computer. Light beam, a Firefox add-onaiming to shine a light on who is watching you, uses interactive visualizations to show you the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web. And these are just examples.

4 tools to help you regain control of your online data

Enhance your online privacy with some of these tools

I know, taking control over our online presence and all the data that we provide to the digital world seems like a very difficult mission. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge that everyone should embrace with determination, especially taking into account the continuous development of the digital world, in all possible dimensions. That is why you should start thinking about enhancing your online privacy, and you can start with some of these tools:

1. Control advertisers who might track you online by installing Privacy badger, a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web.It doesn’t block all the ads, just prevents advertisers to track you across multiple websites without your permission by blocking advertisers to load any more content in your browser.

2. Click and clean is a browser extension that helps you clear your internet history and protect your privacy. Your browser collects different kinds of data: browsing history, search history and puts them in a local storage on your computer. You can delete this manually, but there are tools that can help you to do it with just one click, and this is one of them.

3. No Script is a tool that you can use to protect yourself from malicious software by selecting trusted websites that are allowed to run scripts (such as JavaScript, Java or Flash). This is a Firefox add-on, which automatically blocks scripts and then allows you to select websites you trust.

4. HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. When you browse the websites, the path that our connection follows through the internet is unencrypted. This means that third parties within the network could gain access to our communication with websites. But, when websites use https:// our connection to the website is encrypted, which is an additional protection making our data more secure.

There is no need to fear your online shadow, but it is important to familiarize with it! Start with these tools and then explore more opportunities to stay safe online by following our blog.

Author:

Ivana Drakic

Ivana is a political scientist by vocation and a dancer by heart. She loves to be around geeky people. This mixture explains her interests in technologies, data, writing, research.

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