Secure Digital Identity Best Practices 2023

Secure Digital Identity Best Practices 2023
Published in : 22 Nov 2023

Secure Digital Identity Best Practices 2023

Often, we behave impulsively online without considering the potential impact on our image or how others perceive us. This blog will explain the concept of digital identity, its potential threats to privacy, and essential strategies for safeguarding your online data.

Understanding Digital Identity

Digital identity is defined as the collection of data or information we make public on the internet, which can be accessed by other network users. Every online action or behavior contributes to forming our reputation in the digital space and shapes how others perceive us.

Understanding Digital Identity

Building Your Online Persona

In the tangible or non-digital realm, our identity comprises personal information like our name, age, gender, and other details found in identification documents or any data held by government bodies. Yet, our digital identity encompasses this information and includes all online data about us. This includes login credentials, pictures, videos, posts on forums or social media platforms and websites, associates we have online, and much more.

Any activity conducted on the Internet creates a digital trail known as a digital footprint. This trail serves as a key for users to understand their online identity. Often, it can be as straightforward as performing a quick Google search to view the information available about ourselves.

After the implementation of the GDPR in Europe and the LOPDGDD in Spain, digital identity is now legally recognized. It encompasses rights such as the right to be forgotten and limitations on data processing.

Key Characteristics of Digital Identity

Let's explore the key attributes of digital identity:

  • Social: Our online presence and behavior are shaped by how we interact with and are acknowledged by others on the internet and social media platforms.
  • Subjective: How others perceive a person can vary depending on the information circulating in the network.
  • Indirect: It only permits access to information about a person online rather than facilitating direct personal acquaintance.
  • Valuable: Numerous businesses investigate an individual's online presence to construct detailed profiles.
  • Dynamic: The nature of one's online identity is constantly changing and developing.
  • Composite: The formation of a person's digital identity is not solely determined by their actions and online presence but is also influenced by the input and information provided by external sources.

Characteristics of Digital Identity

 

Components of Digital Identity

You might understand the fundamental information that forms your digital identity, but you continue to wonder: What additional data or details contribute to my digital identity? As previously mentioned, digital identity is shaped by various elements.

Consequently, the online presence is determined by a set of data accessible to fellow users:

  • Usernames or nicks: The name you employ when engaging on digital platforms or services.
  • Avatar: Are you using an actual picture or a photo that reflects your identity? What message does your avatar convey about you?
  • Services you use: In the physical world, your identity is shaped by your clothing choices, entertainment preferences, favorite sports, dietary habits, and numerous other factors. Similarly, in the digital realm, your online presence is influenced by the platforms and services you use. Are you extensively involved in social media? Do you actively participate in online discussions? Do you have a personal website?
  • Posts: Your digital identity is shaped by what you express and how you say it on the internet.
  • Contacts: With whom do you spend your time? Do you have a large or small following? Are the people you interact with online also your real-life friends or acquaintances?
  • Contributions and evaluations: Do you engage with different types of content? What kind of feedback do you provide? How do other users evaluate your contributions?
  • Links: What type of content do you prefer to share links to? Do you lean towards memes, blogs, online newspapers, official websites, or something else?

Components of Digital Identity

Conversely, the lack of information also reflects on your online presence. For instance, having minimal activity on social media, no blog or website, and little to no engagement in forums or communities will shape your internet profile similarly.

This conceptual diagram illustrates the schematic representation of the data and information that form the foundation of our digital identity.

Exploring Types of Digital Identity

While this article primarily addresses the digital identity of individuals, it's important to note that there are various other forms of digital identity.

Corporate Digital Identity: Beyond Individuals

The online presence of a company or organization reflects its brand image, which is the result of its actions and behaviors. Whether intentional or not, every company communicates its values and characteristics through its online activities.

Sovereign Digital Identity: Taking Control Online

The abundance of information on the Internet has heightened the need to safeguard and manage data effectively. This is where the concept of sovereign digital identity becomes crucial. It represents an online identity that empowers users to exercise complete authority over their data, enabling them to dictate who can access it, when, and how.

This area's primary focus is developing a uniform system, particularly on blockchain technology like that utilized in smart contracts. This approach is widely regarded as the most efficient and fundamental method for leveraging blockchains and cryptography within this context.

Real-life Examples of Digital Identity

To demonstrate our previous points, let's explore some instances of digital identity.

As previously mentioned, digital identity is formed by various data, information, and online activities. For instance, personal digital identity can be represented by social media profiles of unknown individuals, personal blogs, YouTube channels, or Twitch channels. In specific examples, personal digital identity may evolve into a corporate or private brand.

Cabronazi serves as a prime illustration of a corporate digital identity. If you're active on social media, you've likely come across it. Initially just a social media account for sharing memes, Cabronazi has evolved into a lucrative business generating substantial revenue. Its success can be attributed to its digital identity centered around humor and nonconformity. Visitors to their profile can expect to encounter this distinctive style.

At long last, we have an illustration of someone who dedicated years to advocating for establishing an independent digital identity: Kaliya Young, a former water polo athlete.

Fifteen years ago, Young, diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, embarked on a battle to have sole control over her network activity, ensuring that other platforms or services couldn't access her information without permission.

Young aims to achieve complete autonomy over his online data and the ability to transfer it to any destination effortlessly. This could involve, for instance, moving information from Google to Facebook and then onward to a doctor's office or a bank.

One of her objectives is to ensure that her data remains entirely private for as long as she desires. This entails preventing any service, platform, company, or public administration from tracking, suspending, or canceling her personal information.

Risks and Threats to Digital Identity

The digital footprint we create online provides cybercriminals with opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to our data, posing a threat to our privacy. This can result in severe consequences as our personal information may be used for malicious purposes such as data theft or phishing attacks.

Identity theft poses a significant threat to digital identity and individuals, as cybercriminals can exploit it to harm our reputation and steal money by pretending to be us. This can result in financial loss through unauthorized access to bank accounts, fraudulent account openings, debt accumulation, and other criminal activities associated with our identity.

Securing Your Digital Presence

We must safeguard our online identity by adopting specific measures while using the Internet to prevent identity theft.

Interested in safeguarding your digital identity? Check out these helpful tips, which include instructions on removing personal information from the web:

Protective Measures for Digital Identity

It's essential to know that WIFI networks are generally not secure, particularly when transmitting sensitive information like personal data, passwords, or financial details. It's best to avoid public Wi-Fi connections in coffee shops and airports, as they often lack Web Encryption and security protocols. Hackers frequently target these networks as an easy way to gain unauthorized access to other people's computers.

Checking and Managing Your Digital Footprint

Do not access websites lacking an SSL certificate, as this encryption system ensures secure transmission of information to the server.

Websites utilizing this certificate are identifiable using the https: protocol. Distinguishing them is simple, as their URLs will commence with https: in the address bar rather than http: Furthermore, the address will be displayed in green and accompanied by a lock symbol.

Ensuring Strong Passwords: A Vital Security Measure

Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as common words or ones related to your personal information, and steer clear of generic options like “123456”.

It is highly advised to create passwords with at least 16 characters, incorporating a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. A practical approach is to utilize a tool for generating passwords automatically.

Alternatively, avoiding using the same password for multiple websites is suggested. We recommend employing a password management tool such as LastPass for individuals who utilize numerous online platforms and maintain various passwords.

Regular Software Updates: Enhancing Digital Protection

Operating systems, programs, and applications are regularly updated to provide new features and enhance performance. These updates also include security measures to safeguard users against emerging threats. It is crucial to keep software up to date, particularly antivirus programs, to ensure protection.

Thoroughly Reviewing Privacy Policies: An Essential Step

We understand that reading privacy policies can be a tedious task. They are intentionally lengthy and complex to discourage you from reading them. However, it's essential not to overlook this.

We advise you to review and set up the privacy settings for your social media accounts according to your preferences. This includes controlling who can view your posts, message you, share your content, and determine the type of advertising you wish to see.

Utilizing Electronic Signatures for Secure Transactions

The electronic signature functions as an identification tool akin to a traditional signature, but it utilizes biometric technology, digital pens, and electronic screens or involves clicking a consent box using a mouse.

Alternatively, the digital signature provides a secure means for specific platforms, particularly official organizations, to verify the authenticity of received signatures. The most commonly employed approach is through digital identity documents or electronic DNIs.

Conducting an Online Name Search: Assessing Your Digital Presence

To discover what information about yourself is available online, consider searching for your name online. This will allow you to gauge the extent of your digital footprint and assess the amount of personal data that is publicly accessible. For instance, you might uncover an old online account you no longer recall and wish to remove.

Requesting Google Deindexing: Exercising Your Right to Privacy

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed, Google has been required to adhere to the right to erasure or be forgotten. This means that every individual has the right to request the removal of any outdated or irrelevant information from their search results, regardless of its accuracy when published.

You can ask Google to erase any information related to you, whether it's your data or content about you that's been posted on other websites. While the content won't be taken down, you can prevent it from appearing in search results.

Using the provided link, you can ask Google to remove your details from its search engine. Remember that Google will need to review your request, and it may not be approved if there are valid grounds, such as public interest or connections to crimes, professional misconduct, or criminal records.

 

Managing Personal Content on Social Networks: Setting Boundaries

One can also control the information displayed on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Accessing the Edit profile feature and adjusting the privacy settings is advisable.

It's important to remember that you have the power to control what others post about you. If someone shares information about you without your permission, you can report it.

Another choice is to delete the social network account permanently. We suggest creating a backup of all your posts before deleting your publication history. It's important to note that platforms like Facebook have a one-month waiting period for account deletion and 90 days for data backup retention.

You probably won't recall your login details if you haven't been active on a social network for a while. If you remember the email you used to sign up, you can quickly request a new password through that email. If not, you must search for the activation email in your inbox.

Deleting Your Data from Forums, Websites, and Other Online Services

You can modify or erase the information you've shared in forums or web pages. Typically, you can edit your posts and delete your account within your user profile. If this option isn't available, you'll need to contact the webmaster to request the removal of any specific information.

Simply put, it's nearly impossible to remain anonymous online, but there are ways to safeguard your privacy and digital identity.

 

In conclusion:

Our online presence is deeply entwined with the digital world, shaping our identity through every online action. As we explore the expansive internet, each click, post, and interaction adds to the complex picture of who we are in the digital realm. It's essential to grasp the fundamental aspects of digital identity, as it encompasses more than just personal information—it also includes our online conduct, connections, and contributions.

Laws like GDPR and LOPDGDD highlight the acknowledgment of digital identity in the legal realm, giving people entitlements such as the right to be forgotten and constraints on data handling. It's crucial to understand that digital identity is multifaceted and ever-changing, influenced not just by our activities but also by the input of others in the online world.

Examining a range of digital identities, including personal, corporate, and sovereign, reveals how our online persona is expressed. Concrete instances like Cabronazi and Kaliya Young emphasize how digital identity can profoundly influence personal branding and promote the idea of individual control over one's data.

Despite the advantages, there are numerous risks associated with digital identity. These range from identity theft to the constant danger of cybercrime, making it essential to protect our digital presence. The suggested strategies for safeguarding digital identity, such as creating strong passwords and actively managing online content, offer practical guidance for users looking to enhance their online security.

In the constantly changing world of the internet, it is crucial to emphasize the significance of staying alert. Keeping software up to date, being aware of and asserting privacy rights, and proactively controlling one's online presence are essential to safeguarding a solid and secure digital identity.

In the digital era, it is up to everyone to protect their online identity by seizing opportunities, overcoming obstacles, and taking proactive steps. By staying informed, practicing good digital habits, and being vigilant, individuals can help create a safer and more secure online world while maintaining the authenticity of their digital presence.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What exactly is digital identity?

Our virtual presence is shaped by the information and data we share online, which collectively forms our online reputation. This encompasses personal data, online behavior, and interactions, all contributing to our digital identity.

How is digital identity different from personal identity in the analog world?

In the analog world, personal identity is based on physical characteristics, while digital identity encompasses online activities, social interactions, and contributions, expanding its scope beyond the physical realm.

How can I know what makes up my digital identity on the internet?

The elements that make up your digital identity, such as usernames, avatars, the platforms you engage with, online content, connections, contributions, and web links, can be uncovered by conducting an online search using your name. This search can provide insight into the scope of your digital presence.

Are there legal aspects to digital identity?

Certainly! In Europe, the legal acknowledgment of digital identity has been established through regulations such as GDPR and LOPDGDD. This has granted individuals new rights, including the ability to request the erasure of their data and restrictions on how their data can be processed.

Can my digital identity transform into a personal brand?

Indeed, the success of Cabronazi illustrates how skillful curation of one's digital identity can lead to the development of a distinct personal or corporate brand.

What are the dangers associated with digital identity?

Our online digital footprint can expose us to dangers like identity theft. Malicious actors may exploit our data for nefarious activities, such as financial scams, and use our identities to commit illegal acts.

How can I protect my digital identity?

To protect your online identity, adhering to good habits like creating strong passwords, frequently updating your software, familiarizing yourself with privacy policies, and actively managing your digital content is essential. It's also necessary to exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi networks and be mindful of the information you disclose.

Can I request Google to remove information about me from search results?

Certainly! Following the introduction of GDPR, individuals are entitled to ask Google to delete outdated or irrelevant information about them from search results. Google will evaluate each request on its own merits before taking action.

How can I delete my data from forums, web pages, and other services?

Many online platforms offer the ability to modify or remove your posted content. If this is not possible, contacting the website administrator is a valid alternative. It is crucial to proactively oversee your online presence across different services to retain authority over your digital persona.