Paranoid about your online privacy and security? Listen, if everyone is out to get you, and they are, then a little paranoia seems like the right attitude. What are you choices? First, same old same old. Do nothing and hope for the best.
Second, take deliberate steps to help secure your privacy. I’m thinking VPN, de-register and delete as many social apps as you can; reduce your online presence, unsubscribe from email lists, track online expenses to avoid fraud (use a single credit card for online purchases), and so on.
Third, go off the grid. What does that even mean?
off the grid
1. Not connected to municipal utility systems, such as the water supply or the main electrical grid. I just need to get enough solar panels installed to disconnect from the city’s electricity supply and my house will be completely off the grid.
2. Free from governmental observation or control; not traceable through any means of commerce or communication that could be linked to one’s identity. Fearing for his life, the whistle-blower from the intelligence agency was forced to live off the grid for a number of years, eschewing anything that might leave a digital footprint for someone to find.
You’re probably required to be a Country Boys Can Survive type to go completely off the grid in the severe sense with no digital footprint.
That ain’t easy, folks.
There is a way, or, rather, a series of steps you can take to reduce your online presence. Charlie Osborne has a few steps and some details. First, Google yourself to see where you are online. Take an inventory of all email communication, online accounts, social media accounts, and so on.
In the EU, citizens are able to request the removal of information from the Google search engine, as well as Blogger and other related Google-owned products…
So, Google is your friend? Not so fast. Google:
When you make your request, we will balance the privacy rights of the individual concerned with the interest of the general public in having access to the information, as well as the right of others to distribute the information. For example, we may decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.
There is no way to control completely your online digital footprint without knowing how much information about you is already online. Completely erasing your presence seems to be the domain of professionals. I don’t know such a profession but it makes sense that someone could make money doing just that.
Or, stick with Apple’s ecosystem, and go back to the Second step above; reduce your online presence from social media, retail stores, forums, et al. That’s exactly the kind of information that can come back to haunt you in the future. I ran one of my most used email addresses through the website HaveIBeenPwned.com and one security breach came up. Adobe. I tried my iCloud email account and that came up clean. Ditto for my Yahoo! email account. Gmail did not do so well and that email address was one of nearly 750-million to be breached.
Try it. That might give you an idea of where to start to clean your online footprint.