Digital or electronic footprinting is a way for websites, platforms, and hackers to track users and collect their data. While most websites use this information for targeted marketing, others sell it.
Hackers can also use it to launch many different attacks. To prevent these attacks, you need to know what digital footprinting is and how it’s used. But where do you start?
This article looks at what footprinting is and how hackers and cyber security specialists use it. We’ll also look at what role IP detection plays and what you can do to protect your footprint, such as using a location-specific proxy provider to keep hackers from tracking you.
We’ll cover these topics regarding digital footprinting:
- What is digital footprinting?
- How is digital fingerprinting used?
- What role does IP address detecting play in footprinting?
- Protection against digital footprinting
What Is Digital Footprinting?
Your digital footprint is the trail of data you leave behind while browsing the internet. Every search request you make and platform you visit leaves a trail, and this trail can easily be followed by those who know how.
This trail can include the websites you visit, searches you log, emails you send, and even the information you submit online.
Sometimes users aren’t even aware that they’re leaving a trail or what contributes to their footprint. Websites can place tracking cookies on your device, and apps can collect your data without you even being aware of it.
Those permissions you accept when installing a new app or visiting a new website give these platforms the right to collect your data or track your internet usage.
How Is Digital Footprinting Used?
There are a few different ways a digital footprint can be used, for good and bad. Both cybersecurity professionals and hackers alike can use these footprints for various reasons.
Businesses rely on cybersecurity to protect their networks and systems from threats while they work online. Businesses are prime targets for threats like phishing and ransomware attacks.
In 2021, 83% of businesses reported phishing attacks. That number is expected to grow by 6 billion people in 2022.
Cybersecurity professionals use various tools, including monitoring digital footprints, to protect businesses. Monitoring a company’s footprint enables security and IT staff to identify and mediate any data leaks before they occur.
Hackers often need certain information to launch their attacks. These can be things like login credentials, passwords, and personal details. One way they can collect this information is by tracking the user’s digital footprint, as they contain a lot of information you might not even be aware of.
Once the hackers and cybercriminals have collected the information, they can launch various attacks, including the five most popular types: phishing, ransomware, malware, DDoS, and data breaches.
What Role Does IP Address Detecting Play In Footprinting?
IP address detection is vital in digital footprinting as your IP address is directly linked to your network and already contains much of your information.
An IP address is a unique identifier allocated to your network by your ISP. No two users can ever use the same IP address simultaneously. Your IP address is also required to communicate with web servers – so there’s no way to use the internet without one.
If a website or a hacker gets hold of your IP address, which is fairly easy to do, they can easily track your online movements.
By tracking your IP address, websites and hackers can see the following information:
- What online services you’ve registered for
- What websites you’ve visited
- Your personal preferences based on your browsing habits
- Any locations you’ve visited physically
- Your online social media profiles
Protection Against Digital Footprinting
One of the best ways to protect yourself or your business against digital footprinting is to use a proxy to hide your IP address. Since the proxy acts as a middleman between the user and the internet, all your details, including your IP, are hidden.
You can even use location-specific proxies, such as a Japan proxy or China Proxy to make it appear that you’re accessing the internet from within those locations, even when you’re elsewhere in the world.
A proxy also makes it possible to bypass any restrictions and access localized content that you might not be able to access otherwise.
Other ways you can protect your digital footprint include:
- Checking your digital footprint in search engines
- Limiting what data you share online
- Frequently checking your privacy settings, including app permissions
- Monitoring what you share on social media (be careful of oversharing)
- Be cautious of what data you share or accounts you visit on public Wi-Fi
- Create strong passwords
- Keep software up to date
Many of us are still unaware of the digital footprint we leave behind. This digital footprint is directly linked to our IPs. It allows certain individuals to track your online movements, see what websites you visit and even collect your data.
Good hackers do a lot of preparation before launching an attack. Tracking your digital footprint and collecting as much information about you as possible is part of this, which is why being aware of your footprint and how to protect it is essential.
You can refer to this article to find the best proxy providers.