A lot of our personal information could be stored online forever
Limiting the exposure of your personal data can be a very simple or too complex task depending on each person. In addition, according to cybersecurity experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security, people cannot completely prevent a digital platform from collecting their information, so completely recovering the user’s privacy is a task close to the impossible.
How can we control the exposure of our information?
• Internet Archive
Have you ever heard of Internet Archive? It is a non-commercial digital library established in California that provides free access to a vast collection of digitized material such as websites, applications, videos, moving images and millions of public domain books.
According to experts in cybersecurity, this site protects copies of all public websites for the purpose of preserving a record of our history in the digital age. Although initially developed for academics, Internet Archive continued to grow to contain about 25 petabytes of data in total.
All personal information that has been publicly available is found on the Internet Archive, including information on websites and services currently closed. This means that all the information you have shared publicly can be found there. You can use the Internet Archive advanced search option, and you can also contact the site managers through firstname.lastname@example.org to request the deletion of your information.
• Have I Been Pwned?
This is a project initiated by the cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt. This site allows online users to verify if their personal data has been compromised by a data breach. Users have the option to find their own information by typing their user names or email addresses, and you can use the automated functions of the site. Have I Been Pwned? also allows you to create an account to receive notifications in case of cyberattacks against your email account.
If your online privacy is a serious topic for you, Have I Been Pwned is definitely the ideal choice to check if your account on any online platform has been attacked.
In addition to supporting tools like Have I Bee Pwned? and Internet Archive, users must perform some actions to mitigate the risks for their information and privacy. To take care of your social media is a good start. Our social network accounts contain a lot of personal information that any malicious user could take advantage of for multiple frauds.
The worst part is that eliminating a social network profile is more difficult than it seems, and the process varies according to the platform in question. It may be advisable to make a backup of this information before deleting it. Cybersecurity experts recommend:
• Back up your data according to the service
• Read the terms of service to learn how information is handled and removed; note that some platforms may withhold certain information due to legal requirements
• Control your deleted accounts to ensure that all information is permanently deleted
• Delete the email accounts you used to register on the platforms you want to delete
After you delete your accounts, you could check if your data still appears through a search engine. If so, you can use Google’s “Remove obsolete content” feature, you can also use a Bing tool called “Content deletion”.
In conclusion, experts on cybersecurity also recommend the use of VPN as one more measure to avoid overexposure of our personal information on the Internet.