Privacy Week Special: Leave No Crumbs
A click here, a like there, this post created with the “Everyone” section ignored before clicking
the Share button, and that pet you can’t stop bragging about all contribute to your digital
behavior. These trivial activities performed on the Internet reveal preferences and personal
information you do not even realize you’re sharing.
When you surf the Internet, you leave digital crumbs all over the place, just as crumbs are left on
your table after eating a good sandwich at your favorite diner or when you are trying to make
that African burger with your bread and akara. These crumbs are small chunks of your data that
can be taken and utilized maliciously.
What better time to learn about how we overshare our data and expose ourselves to attacks than
Data Privacy Week?
How You Leave Crumbs On The Table
Of course, the cute pictures you take and post of your new apartment or a vacation trip are
wonderful sights to behold, and so is the location information you unintentionally or
intentionally provide. Cybercriminals are constantly roaming through the digital streets, looking
for a good bite of your data to devour.
Unknown to you, you do not need to leave a large quantity of personal information, such as
writing, “This is my BVN xxxxxxxxxxx,” before an attacker becomes interested. They only need
the smallest crumbs you leave on your table.
The first important part of this blog post is the big question, “How do I leave digital crumbs?”
You leave digital crumbs all over the internet through:
- Every post, like, comment, and share on social media platforms contributes to your digital
crumbs, including the content you create, the pages you follow, and the interactions you have.
- Each website you visit is recorded in your browsing history. This data can be used to infer
your interests, shopping habits, and the types of information you seek online.
- Geotagging on photos, check-ins, or location-sharing features leaves behind a trail of your
whereabouts and physical location. This information can be used to build a profile of your daily
- The apps on your device and the permissions you grant them often collect data on your usage
patterns, preferences, and behaviors. This information is used not only for improving the user
experience but also for targeted ads.
- Filling out malicious forms or registering on a malicious website for giveaways or freebies can
contribute to our digital crumbs, revealing our personal identifiable information (PII)
Your Crumbs Are Somebody Else’s Lunch
The question of how you leave data strewn across the Internet has been answered. This brings us
to the second and more important question: What could my crumbs possibly be used for?
There are several ways the overlooked crumbs you leave on your table can be put to good use.
The comments, posts, likes, and survey answers can be against you if they get into the wrong
hands. Several ways in which your crumbs can be used include:
- Cybercriminals can piece together personal identifiable information (PII) from digital crumbs
to commit identity theft and gain unauthorized access to financial accounts, healthcare records,
or other sensitive data.
- Geotagging and location-sharing data may be exploited for stalking, burglary, kidnapping, or
other physical malicious activities.
- Sharing details about online purchases or financial transactions through social media can make
individuals targets for financial exploitation.
- Attackers can use compiled information from digital footprints to create sophisticated, targeted
cyberattacks, such as spearphishing efforts or malicious actions designed to exploit particular
weaknesses discovered through one’s digital behaviors.
Leaving Behind a Clean Table
The third and most important question is, “Can I avoid leaving crumbs?” It is not 100% possible,
but it is extremely important to avoid leaving crumbs on your trail on the Internet. You can
achieve this by following these tips to protect your data, be it a burger size or a sandwich crust
- Limit oversharing on social media platforms. Be mindful of your posts, likes, comments, and
shares. Never post personal information.
- Review and adjust privacy settings on social media platforms and applications.
- Minimize the way you accept cookies. Even cookies crumble and leave crumbs.
- Regularly clear cookies to minimize tracking across websites.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities to reduce exposure to potential threats.
- Think twice before filling out online quizzes and forms from unknown sources, as they may
harvest personal information.
- Regularly update and strengthen passwords to enhance overall online security.
You are the master of your data. Only you have power over your data. Whatever data a
cybercriminal gets from you, it is crumbs that you have left on the table.
Keep it locked, keep it private, TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR DATA, and LEAVE NO CRUMBS.