Digital footprintsThere are eyes and ears everywhere, and the internet is no exception. Every online activity you do can be traced and added to a collection of data known as a digital footprint, a data-driven representation of you. A digital footprint can be either an asset or a liability depending on who uses it, so it’s essential to understand what it is and how to use it. Contact our experts at Blackhawk to help you do just that.

Collecting data

There are two main types of digital footprints, and they depend upon the type of data collected and used to form them:

Passive digital footprint

This is information that is recorded without the user’s knowledge, and often harvested in the background of normal activities. For example, if a user accessed a database and only input a username, several other pieces of data would be automatically collected, such as IP address, location, browser choice, and date of creation without their knowing. Passive data is not publicly searchable, and so while it can be unsettling, it poses relatively little threat to your daily operations.

Active digital footprint

Active digital footprints consist mainly of publicly searchable information that you have actively shared, such as social media posts, comments, and other writing you have done online. With so much of this data being readily available it can have a large impact on things such as employment and credit scores. Any mistake made online has been recorded and can be found.

Due to much of your data being online, it’s often best to use a professional service when trying to determine the scale of your own digital footprint. For corporations especially, the amount of data can be overwhelming for one person to manage. At Blackhawk, our asset tracing services can be used to quickly gather and compile relevant data to give you a full view of your online activity.

A risky business

While the risks associated with digital footprints may seem confined to personal use, the reality is that it can affect businesses too. With each employee you hire, you create another way to infiltrate your security and get access from the inside.

A social engineering attack is a way of utilising the active digital footprint to gain access to private systems. For a social engineering experiment, a cybersecurity company attempted to gain access to a large mining company. They were able to identify targets from social media profiles, and obtain their contact details, designations and other relevant business information through public searches. It allowed them to pose as internal IT support and request that these targets update their computer, which they did, immediately giving full, unrestricted access to the ‘hackers’. It’s a scenario that is increasingly common, and the digital footprint has more recently begun to include psychological data such as likes, preferences, fears and tendencies. Your digital footprint can let others build a reasonably complete profile of you.

Social engineering is less of a technological inadequacy and more of a human one. It is the process of tricking people into giving away confidential information and access to protected systems. Awareness of how hackers manipulate human interactions can be enough to stop them in their tracks, and understanding digital footprints is the first step to this. If you’re concerned about other possible vulnerabilities in your business, then it’s worth looking into corporate intelligence to make sure your blind spots are covered.

Of course, knowing about this data can provide advantages as well. Digital footprints can apply to entire companies: many use social media from a business account to engage with their audience. Understanding this data also gives you greater control over your company’s assets. For instance, interpreting the digital footprint allows you to trace any rogue payments as all the data can be retrieved and reviewed. This process of ‘following the money’ can be complicated, but there are experts like us that can help.

Blackhawk Asset Tracing

At Blackhawk, we have a great deal of experience with digital footprints thanks to our asset tracing service. Much of the footprint is raw data and is often useless without someone to translate it. We know exactly where data is stored, how to retrieve it ethically and legally and most importantly for you, how to interpret it.

We’re experts at turning data into results. To find out how give us a call on 020 7788 8983 or fill out our Online Form.

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