The Digital You - How others may try to use your digital footprint
If a criminal can find out information from you due to lax privacy settings, or possible over-sharing of information, think how easy it is to start making themselves look like your company.
We have all become accustomed to the word ‘digital’, now used so frequently, we just accept it.
Looking back, some readers will remember the incredible invention of ‘the digital watch’ - bright red LED’s appearing as if by magic on a watch face?
OK, we have come a long way since those heady days:
Music being transferred from ‘analogue’ records to digital format.
Film becoming digitised to allow it to be captured on magnetic platters and many other workflows in industry have now been converted from a mechanical/analogue format to digital (plan drawings and documentation etc.)
So what is ‘The Digital You’?
A term that is massively over used and conveys many things to many people but for cyber-security purposes, the digital you is normally your digital footprint.
The digital footprint is something that your interaction with devices leaves behind, each time you interact with them.
You log onto your Gmail account – Google has a record of your interaction – including time, date, machine, operating system – and possibly much more.
You log onto your Facebook Account – Facebook has a record of your IP address, date, time operating system and platform. Then each page you visit, it is all recorded again, and again, and again.
You head off to YouTube and watch a few videos – again, your details are noted similar to above.
You go to a different website and land back on Facebook – and all of a sudden, you are prompted with an advert based on things you have just been looking at.
It is time to face facts; our devices give us such a wealth of opportunities but this comes at a price – and that price is the data we allow big tech companies to have, in exchange for providing us with ‘free’ access to so much data.
If you think it is bad at the moment, wait a few more years as we see Artificial Intelligence (AI) become an even bigger player in our lives and customer service departments becoming almost fully automated.
People want to speak with people, and AI is starting to allow that to happen more easily – except the ‘human’ you are speaking to is in fact a ‘Digital Human’.
AI has it’s imperfections and limitations, but these are gradually getting ironed out.
Self-driving cars, Digital Humans – well it’s happening, so no use sticking your head in the sand – learn to adapt.
One website states that by 2025, AI will power 95% of all customer interactions…
“Right now, digital humans are being deployed as brand ambassadors, digital influencers, customer support representatives and healthcare advisors to name a few. Everything from their unique appearance to their personalities are being co-designed to create the most positive, lasting impact on users.” (https://digitalhumans.com/)
So back to the present, if you know you are being tracked, does it bother you?
If it does, what steps do you take to prevent big tech companies tracking and identifying you?
If you dislike it, are you willing to go without? For instance, limited internet search options, limited social media interactions, limited compatibility with other systems in the future.
So the decision as to how much you want to be tracked and how much effort you want to make to limit the amount you are tracked, does come down to you and how much ‘easier’ you want to make your life. It may necessitate looking at implementing more cyber-security protocols than you have at present. It may mean subscribing for services such as Private Virtual Networks and using Password Manager Apps. It will certainly involve you looking at all of the online accounts you are affiliated with and deciding whether you really need them anymore.
Have you checked your web-presence recently?
What does your website say about you and how much information does it relate personally back to you and your employees?
Do you need individuals’ email addresses on the company website – or would a ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ be sufficient for enquiries. By implementing this one simple step, you force all emails generated by bots crawling the web to send email to that designated email address, where you can apply specific filters and rules to ensure you find the malicious content way before it gets through to an employee’s mailbox.
Your website name – is it unique?
Have you looked to see if there are other domains that can be bought by criminals so they can be made to look almost identical to yours?
Why not purchase those URL’s and prevent criminals the opportunity?
That is not a statement of how good Email is. Email ‘Rules’ or ‘Filters’ are by far the most frequently utilised area for criminals to spy on your emails. If a criminal has been able to get into your email – either by a weak or often used password – or a password gleaned from a breached website, then they can create rules that will ‘BCC’ them all of your email in the future. So although you may have realised that your account had been compromised, and you changed the password – did you check if there were any rules or filters put in place?
So take a few minutes, have a think about your digital footprint and look at how you can minimise it, but also look at how to make sure you and your employees are a bit more cyber aware of where those footprints are left.
Have a Cyber Spring-Clean, you will be safer for it!
Detective Constable Gareth Jordan has been a police officer for 13 years and prior to that, was employed in the IT and Pre-Press and Print sector.
Gareth is now based at Police HQ in Carmarthen and has been involved in investigating all forms of crime that have a cyber-element to them.
He has a wealth of knowledge regarding Cyber Security and continues to expand this by being involved in the day-to-day investigation of cyber-based crimes.
Gareth knows about the latest cyber scams and can explain how they are carried out – and more importantly – how you can avoid falling foul of them.