Beginners Guide To Digital Security

Deleting Your Digital Footprint

Deleting your digital footprint

I received no money from any of the products I referenced in this post I genuinely believe they are good services.


This guide is a response to the Ledger hack.  Ledger had their database hacked and a few hundred thousand of their customers' information was stolen.  The information lost includes full name, address, email, and phone number.  This is a very serious offense.  People buy Ledger to store their cryptocurrency.  So now people who may have bought crypto very early and could potentially be sitting on thousands of dollars or more, have to live with the fact that any bad actor on the internet can find out exactly where they live.

If Ledger leaked all of your personal information I would strongly suggest changing your phone number. Hackers can sim swap your phone number and cause all types of problems including loss of crypto funds. Funds in a hard wallet are safe.

If you have received suspicious emails about your Ledger or anything crypto related your email has definitely been compromised. If you want to search the full list of names and addresses leaked by Ledger send me a private email and I will show you the list. I will not post here due to obvious privacy concerns.


This guide is a beginners guide to deleting your information from the internet.  Once your info, such as the Ledger hack, ends up on the internet it is impossible to ever delete all of it. 

However, there are steps you can take to minimize your footprint and make it harder for people to find out who you are.  I am not a cybersecurity expert so this guide is by no means the end-all be-all of personal identity security.  I do believe that this guide will be a very solid foundation for you to build upon and give you a great starting point.



Let’s begin…
The following list was taken from Safr

Delete accounts

Systematically go through every account and delete. To help you remember what websites you may use here is a list of popular websites.

Facebook - Go to Account Settings—Security—Deactivate account. This removes you from visibility, but the account remains just in case you change your mind. To eradicate the account altogether, go to Delete My Account and hit the blue button.

Twitter - Go to Account Settings—Deactivate my account—Okay, fine, deactivate account. “Deactivate” means delete in this case, but you have a 30 day grace period to change your mind.

YouTube

LinkedIn - Go to Privacy & Settings—Account—Close your account.

MySpace

StumbleUpon

FlickreBay

Amazon

Craigslist

PayPal

Support forums (medical, parenting, pet ownership, business, etc.)

Gaming sites

Content sites you’ve written for

Freelance job sites

The local online newspaper where you’re registered to post comments to articles

Google+ - To remove only your public information, click your name/e-mail address (upper right corner). Go to Account Management—Delete profile and remove related Google+ features—Delete Google+ content.To remove the entire Google+ account, repeat the above, then hit Delete your entire Google profile. You’ll still be able to use, for instance, your e-mail (gmail), but to eradicate every molecule of Google+ (e.g., mail, calendar), go to your homepage and hit Close account and delete all services and info associated with it. 

Worry about the Big 4 to start.  Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.  If someone wants to find you, they will start with one of these 4.  Unfortunately there is not much room for social media if you want to be protective.  If you do decide to use Instagram or Twitter only use them at home on your desktop computer.  Their mobile apps are privacy nightmares. 


Next delete all old email accounts.  Old emails tend to have a ton of identifiable information.  Not only that but they can be used to reset passwords on other services that listed the email to register. 

I know I personally used Yahoo mail a lot back in the day so that’s where I started.  


Next go to https://knowem.com/ and search any usernames you commonly use.  This website will tell you which websites have that username available.  If it is not available and on a website you have used in the past than it might be best to assume that is an old account of yours that you have forgotten about.


Next go to DeleteMe and get your information off of data broker websites.  DeleteMe will remove your information from leading people search and data broker websites.    DeleteMe has a free guide you can use to get your data but it takes a long time.  They also have a service that cost about 10 dollars a month for a single person which will delete your information every 3 months. 

You can find the free guides here :

https://joindeleteme.com/help/diy-free-opt-out-guide/

And the sign up page here for their paid service. 

 https://joindeleteme.com/privacy-protection-plans/ 


Use as few apps as possible.  The ones you do use should not be free. If you are not paying directly for the app, the app developer is likely making money by selling your personal information.  Some apps cost money and STILL sell your information. Apps like DoorDash, UberEats, Facebook Messenger, even Angry Birds have all been known to sell your information.  If you absolutely have to have the app at least check the permission and uncheck anything that is unnecessary. 

Oftentimes you can hold down your finger on the app button and you'll see a “settings” button.  In the settings menu you should see “permissions”.


Download a VPN for your phone and desktop.  A VPN is a virtual private network that will route your internet signal through different areas making it much harder to track where you are coming from. 

Here is a list of VPN rankings from PC Mag.  I have heard that NordVPN is the the best choice for the average person.https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-vpn-services

Another option would be to use malware bytes

https://www.malwarebytes.com/pricing/

Malware bytes offers both malware/ransomware protection as well as a VPN for a pretty fair monthly price . They also come with a browser extension which keeps a watchful eye as you browse the internet.  In my opinion its worth the 5 dollars a month or whatever it is.  If you need additional anti virus protection I would recommend this route.  Malware Bytes offers a free 14 day trial so maybe give that a shot before you purchase to see if you like it. 


Next you will need an email address given that you deleted all your old ones.  Go to proton mail and make yourself a new email address.  You’ll notice you don’t need to input any name or other personal information unlike Gmail.

https://mail.protonmail.com/create/new?language=en 


 Download the Firefox browser.  Firefox is a decent option for the average person .  You can download their browser here

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

Make sure you don’t download the free antivirus that pops up.  It seems sacrilegious that a privacy based browser would try to trick you with a pop up download but Firefox frequently lands at the top of the list for privacy protection. If Firefox is not your cup of tea I have also heard Brave browser is a good choice for privacy oriented people.

If you want to take it a step further you can use the Tor browser.  Tor is the top level of browser security as far as I am aware but it may interfere with some web capabilities.  Also due to its decentralized design it can sometimes be a bit slow.  

Download Tor here if you want to go top security

https://www.torproject.org/ 


Next download the Malware bytes browser guard.  This is the browser extension we talked about earlier which will keep a watchful eye on bad actors attempting to gain access through malicious websites

https://www.malwarebytes.com/browserguard/


Next go to DuckDuckGo and make them your home page.  

https://duckduckgo.com/

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that will not follow or track anything you do.  There is no reason to be using Google at this point so make DuckDuckGo your homepage and you won’t accidentally use Google anymore.  I also downloaded the DuckDuckGo extension for Firefox because I did not think it would hurt to stack it on top of my Malware Bytes extension.


You may be wondering why it costs money to maintain your privacy. Websites and developers have to make their money somehow. If you are getting a service for free (Facebook for example) they are making money by selling your information to marketers who hope you will buy their product. All the products I listed here would cost a cumulative amount of maybe $20 dollars a month. If you spend alot of time on the internet and/or are involved in cryptocurrency I personally beleive the money is well spent.

Again, this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list to take you off the grid entirely. I will slowly build towards having a much more comprehensive security guide that will make your online existence all but bulletproof, but this is Part 1 and nothing more than a good starting point for the average person.

-Matt