Identity is the set of features or characteristics of a person that may be separated from others in a set. Therefore, digital identity is the set of information, features and characteristics that we share online as well as the trail we leave on different social networking sites, professional profiles, blogs, company pages, comments we make in news, reviews, forums, etc. By putting together these tiny pieces we get a completed puzzle made up of who we are and what we do, plus other data that third parties share about us whether or not we’re aware of it, so that this communication is passive.
This passive information and in best case scenarios we know about, can end up playing a trick on us, especially if we don’t know that it’s been shared and even less if we don’t know where it originated from or who published it. In order to monitor all this, we can set up Google Alerts with our name, pseudonyms, ID numbers, phone numbers, addresses and current or previous emails, etc.
The first step to being protected and for controlling our privacy is to know what has been published about us, both active and passive information, so that we can start our Digital Identity Protection Protocol. Not all the information published about us is necessarily negative, inappropriate or of intimate nature, but we should know exactly what is shared online about us.
How is digital identity and reputation related?
We are facing an important paradigm shift in communication systems, the way we interact has changed our perception of privacy and areas of our lives that once seemed inaccessible have become, in many cases, public.
It’s funny how even knowing that privacy and intimacy are things that the use of internet technologies can’t guarantee we continue resisting to believe that it’s okay to upload images or use the same password on all our devices and social media accounts.
We don’t fully understand the danger of leaving our digital identity in the hands of others and when we finally realize that we no longer have control of our data we’re helpless.
Online not everything goes, not everything can be and not everything is equal. We can, and sometimes should, remove harmful content shared online about a person, brand or surroundings. Prevention is the best defense when it comes to our security and online privacy. We must learn to properly manage both our personal and professional privacy and digital security. It’s essential to master new techniques of open source searches, to know how to act in a reputation crisis, and to act quickly, safely and efficiently.
Security and privacy must be dealt with on two levels: preventative (taking necessary precautions to avoid possible problems related to security and privacy); reactive (when the problem is already created it’s necessary to know how to address in the most effective and urgent manner).
For more detailed information about this topic, you may consult the “Personal brand and Digital Identity” manual by Selva Orejón.
Guest post by Selva Orejón. Professor of Online Privacy and Security at INESDI Digital Business School.