10 urgent actions to remain in control of your digital life

urgentIn this post I share 10 urgent actions that must be taken immediately to manage, secure and protect your digital-moi.

Digital-moi is a unique concept that I have developed since 2013, centered on the impact that digital technologies have on our lives and the need to protect our digital self. Read more about it in this introduction post “We all have a digital twin” and “The pyramid of digital needs“. This post is a complement to the conference “digital-moi.com: how to manage and protect your digital self“.

Manage your digital-moi

#1- Inventory your digital assets: start by listing all the different digital assets you own, places where your digital self is being recorded and created. For example, list out all the emails you have (Gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), then all the social networks you belong to (Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, etc.), all the banks and credit cards you have accounts in (National bank, visa, MasterCard, etc.), and all the mobile devices you own and have a profile in (Apple, Android, Blackberry, etc.). They form the basis of your digital self and will help guide your next steps. I have prepared a simple spreadsheet to help you get started with the most common assets: just create a new copy as your personal inventory.

#2- Find out what your digital-moi contains: go everywhere you have an account and verify what is on your profile to understand a bit more what Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon know about you. Then update the information as required. You may want to start with the following: Google myaccount.google.com, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft privacy Microsoft opt-out

#3- Be there – Claim your digital territory: to make sure no one impersonates you, create a profile on the most popular social networks and digital destinations. Claim your digital identity so others don’t – even if it is minimal and says only that you don’t use the service but would rather have all inquiries be directed to your LinkedIn profile for example. Most common ones include: Facebook, LinkedIn, aboutme, twitter

Secure your digital-moi

#4- Use a password manager: I use LastPass but take your pick from a long list of password managers. Passwords remain our primary security mechanism so make sure your passwords are all different, long and complex – and the only way to do so without going crazy is by using a password manager as it will help create those 25 character passwords and recall them when you need to login to your preferred site.

#5- Use 2-factor authentication (2FA) everywhere: not all sites offer 2FA but biggest ones like Google, Facebook, Apple, twitter make it an option. Check out this list if your preferred site is on the list and how to turn it on: A list of sites that support 2FA. And yes, I agree, it is mind boggling that so few banks support 2FA. Go figure…

#6- Cleanup the connected logins : it is very easy to use your Google, or Facebook ID to login into another site. This leaves traces behind that you will want to clean up regularly, say every change of season. Just go through the list and remove what is not required anymore – the less links there are the less likely you are that a breach in one site spreads to others. Start here for the most popular sites: Google connected accounts ou connected apps, Facebook apps connectées, twitter, LinkedIn

#7- Verify if your email has been hacked: register your email on websites such as have I been pawned that maintain a list of hacked websites and report when your email has been compromised.

Protect your digital-moi

#8- “google”  your name monthly: Google search remains the primary starting point for searches in today’s world. This is the natural place people will look for you so you need to know what returns when you google your own name. To do so, set up an alert in Google to search for your name (or combination of words people make type when looking for you) on a monthly basis

#9- Surf the web in relative anonymity: it is difficult to be anonymous on the web and a number of tools, mostly ad blockers, have been created to help reduce the digital footprint we leave when browsing the web. Popular ones include adblock plus and Ghostery but understand that using those will seriously impact your browsing experience, as ads and beacons have become a central part of the user experience and often the design of websites. Or use your browser’s incognito mode to limit the information being recorded – although even incognito mode has its limitations and your browser may have a unique fingerprint. Often, ad blocker will prevent access to sites altogether or may even be worse than letting the ads go through in the first place. Nevertheless, you may want to use them or tools such as Lightbeam to visualize just how much digital exhaust a simple web browsing session leaves behind.

#10- Stay vigilant so you do not become the weakest link in your digital chain: remember that social engineering remains the most common way for hackers to capture important information about you and your digital twin- even the CIA director got hacked. Remain careful of emails from unknown sources and phone calls where you may reveal a little bit too much information.

I write about this topic often so read my blog and subscribe to the newsletter. Want to know even more? Have a look at my LinkedIn profile. I also give conferences on digital-moi.com to help manage and protect your digital twin: contact me for details or just to comment.

 

Farid Mheir
farid@mheir.com