You’ve probably heard this advice before…
“The Internet is forever!”
Did you take the advice, or roll your eyes? Hopefully you took that to heart, because it happens to be true: What goes up on the Internet will not come down. Just hitting “delete” isn’t enough, but why? How can you actually scrub your information from the Internet?
Anything posted online can be saved permanently, before you get the chance to delete it. Think about it: Your friend could screenshot the text argument that you had. Someone saved your leaked Facebook messages before you flagged them. Anything you can see, so can everyone else. There’s no telling who is screen shotting or even screen recording from anywhere in the world.
On the flip side, you can make it work for you too. Capture conversations, posts, images and other content before they are removed from the internet. Then you’ll have a saved record in case something needs to be verified later on.
Have you ever gone back and cleared your search history or cookies? In Chrome, you might see an option to “Delete content from the beginning of time,” or at least since you started using it. All browsers have it; and it means that our online activity can be tracked and stored indefinitely, making it difficult to delete or erase any of our digital footprints. If someone breaks into that database, it would be disastrously full of information.
This data is how companies know exactly what to market you; the government can access it for surveillance purposes; you may have it pulled up in a court of law. We can delete our search history and cookies, but that won’t protect it from file recovery tools that hackers know how to use against you.
If someone swipes your laptop, tablet or any other device, they have access to everything you’ve done on it. They don’t necessarily have to crack your passwords, either; cybercriminals can take out your hard drive and put it into their own devices. Then, those same file recovery tools that let them retrieve your search history can gather all of your files and data, even if you’ve deleted them from the Recycling Bin.
So how can you scrub your information from the Internet? Don’t post it in the first place. While you can reset your phone to “factory settings” to wipe it clean, you can’t exactly hit Restore to Defaults on the World Wide Web. Be careful not to post information like your name, or photos and videos you don’t want findable forever.
This is not the only way that threat actors can find and steal your data. Follow our blog for biweekly tips and news in information security!