Online Best Practices

Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is your online presence in today’s technology-based environment. This footprint is all over the Internet. It is therefore important to ensure your digital profile matches the profile you are intending to share. It is also critical to guard your privacy — not only to avoid embarrassment, but also to protect your identity and finances! Take stock of the information about yourself that is accessible – or potentially accessible:

Consider the following:

Social Media accounts

Leaves vast amounts of personal information vulnerable.

Healthcare accounts

Leaves personally identifiable information and, potentially, healthcare data, vulnerable.

Your online shopping accounts

Leaves credit card data vulnerable.

Your online financial accounts

Leaves banking, tax, credit card, and other important information vulnerable.

Your government issued identification

Leaves personally identifiable information vulnerable.

New data breaches are continually announced in the news. To minimize the risks of exposure, below are specific steps you can take to protect your online information, identity and privacy:

  1. Use a unique password for each site
    Hackers often use previously compromised information to access other sites. Choosing unique passwords keeps that risk to a minimum.
  2. Use a password manager
    Using an encrypted password manager to store your passwords makes it easy to access and use a unique password for each site.
  3. Use two factor authentication
    Two factor authentication reduces the likelihood that a hacker could use your password to access your accounts.
  4. Know what you are sharing
    Read the privacy policies on your accounts to know how companies use your information. Check the privacy settings on your social media accounts; some even include a wizard to walk you through the settings. Be cautious about what you post publicly. Know how various accounts may be connected to each other and what access permissions you allow each app to have.
  5. Secure your mobile devices and your computers.
  6. Guard your date of birth, telephone number, social security number and other personal details
    These are key pieces of information used for verification, and you should not share them publicly. If an online service or site asks you to share this critical information, consider whether it is important enough to warrant it.
  7. Keep your work and personal presences separate
    Keep Georgetown information in Georgetown places. Keep GU email in your GU account, not a personal account.
  8. There are no true secrets online
    Use the postcard or billboard test: Would you be comfortable with everyone reading a message or post? If not, don’t share it. Once it is made available online, it is permanently discoverable publicly.