Category: CISO life, Employee Awareness

Owning your company’s digital footprint


Your organisation’s credentials are out there for all to see.

Marketing messages, business statements, company information and everything written, posted or downloaded leaves a permanent trace in cyberspace. This is your organisation’s digital footprint.

It is your online identity, made up of your unique set of traceable online activities, communications and information. Everything that goes online about your company, whether intentionally or inadvertently, by the company or by others, adds to its digital footprint.

And this footprint is a big factor in how your company is perceived online.


Digital footprint awareness

The term ‘digital footprint’ is often associated with individuals, but it is important for businesses to think about what they leave online too.

Your company’s digital footprint is a combination of active and passive traces which shape your online reputation.

An active footprint consists of information the company intentionally releases online. It can include your company’s marketing materials, social media activity and pages followed or liked.

A passive footprint, however, is made up of data you may not even know has been left online, such as browsing data, IP addresses and website cookies.

Your company’s online reputation is also influenced by information left online by other people, such as reviews, testimonials and mentions on social media. Even organisations without an online presence can have a digital footprint made up of posts and information from other websites, companies or customers.


Dangers of a digital footprint

Cybercriminals can use your digital footprint to build up a picture of your company and your employees. They may use this to steal employees’ identities or target them with scams.

If cybercriminals successfully steal an employee’s identity, they could use it to access your company’s systems, emails and finances.

And if your employees or your workplace is compromised, a cybercriminal can use information from your digital footprint to create convincing phishing or social engineering campaigns, trick users into installing malware, or access valuable information to sell on the dark web.


Analysing your company’s footprint

A positive online presence plays a vital role in a successful business strategy, so it’s important to know what information is available in the public domain.

Consider:

  • Are you aware of what makes up your company’s digital footprint?

  • Is the information contained in your footprint secure?

  • Do you know who is allowed to post on your company’s behalf

  • What are other people posting about your company online?

Being aware of what company information is goes online will help inform your strategy for keeping it secure.

While it’s impossible to have no digital footprint at all, you can take steps to reduce and manage it.

Assess how your company is viewed online by:

  • Searching for your business on Google:
    Use incognito mode to disable your browsing history and cache to view results that other users would see, rather than targeted results.

  • Checking social media:
    Review your company websites and social channels to update business information and posts.

  • Managing online reviews:
    Find out if there is a process in place to manage and respond to reviews about your company, and make sure it is followed.

Taking ownership of your digital footprint, made up of hundreds of pieces of information from various sources, may seem daunting, but this task is more important than ever.

Your active footprint will be easier to control because you can influence this information and ensure that it is accurate and up to date.

But review your company’s websites, social media pages and online posts will also help identify any information that could pose a security risk. Then, most importantly, you can take steps to secure it.


Educating your employees

Employees at all levels need to understand how everyone’s actions online can contribute to your company’s digital footprint.

Ask your employees if they know what a digital footprint is. Do they understand where it leads? Do they know what a cybercriminal could do with the information their footprint holds?

By ensuring your employees can define, manage and reduce their digital footprints at home and at work, you can help protect them and your company from cybercriminals.

Remember: what goes online, stays online.


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