Simply put, digital identity is a collection of all information about a person or entity on the Internet, including personal data, images, news, social networks etc. It comprises all the content and interactions that we carry out online.
It can also include personal data, photographs, tastes, hobbies, groups of friends, verification of employment, comments as well as opinions that others have regarding a person, business or brand.
With the inception of e-commerce stores, all private and sensitive data, which includes identification numbers, addresses, bank account numbers and credit cards, are also included in the realm of digital identity. Such type of information requires special protection measures against fraud and identity theft.
Therefore, all the data and the formal and information circulating on the Internet are considered part of the Digital Identity of a person or a business. Digital identity management requires a specific approach as part of a brand image strategy within a digital marketing plan.
Elements of digital identity
Digital identity comprises of, among others, these elements:
- Personal profiles: In social media networks, dedicated web pages, virtual platforms, or job search networks.
- Blogs and forums: Where we share various information or opinions. For example, on YouTube, news and information portals, etc.
- Digital content: Pictures, presentations, infographics and various other documents that we develop, edit and store online.
- Messaging applications.
- Email addresses.
As you would have already imagined, our digital identity’s online trail is quite comprehensive.
What is Digital Identity meant for?
Digital identity helps build an image and reputation at a social and business level. This helps generate trust, facilitate communication and relationships online and offline. There are various background verification companies who also scan digital identity as a part of employment verification.
The means Digital Identity is built and strengthened with several elements, including:
- Email account.
- Mobile phone and SMS.
- Profiles in social networks.
- Video channels like YouTube.
- Groups, communities and fan pages.
- Instant messaging accounts like WhatsApp.
- Profiles in professional networks such as LinkedIn.
This indicates that this is not an issue to be taken lightly, as caring for digital identity is caring for your reputation.
How do we identify ourselves on the internet?
With the advancement of the Internet, we are buying more and more from e-commerce stores and accessing many services through the Internet. For instance, nowadays, buying things online or executing banking operations from a dedicated smartphone app is increasingly common.
This is undoubtedly one of the significant advancements, but it also poses several challenges regarding the security of our digital identity and the privacy of our personal data online.
In this regard, one of the primary challenges is to develop secure systems so that anyone can demonstrate their personal identity in the digital environment worry free. In other words, everyone can prove that they are who they claim to be when they want to access online services or want to buy something online.
From here, the concepts of identification and authentication emerge. While identifying yourself is saying who you are, authenticating yourself is showing that you are exactly who you say you are.
Generally, to access an online service, you identify yourself through a username or email address and authenticate yourself using your password. However, due to a rapid rise in cybercrime cases in recent years, as well as the theft of digital identities, authentication systems are becoming much more sophisticated.
How to protect your digital identity?
The theft of digital identities is one of the most common cybercrimes. If someone’s digital identity is stolen, cybercriminals can easily access their bank accounts and make unauthorized purchases on their behalf, and they can also use the stolen identity to damage the reputation on social networks.
To secure your identity online, you must understand that digital identity theft is the order of the day and could easily happen to you.
Moreover, it is also recommended that you put the following tips into practice:
- Avoid using unprotected or public Wi-Fi networks.
Free Wi-Fi networks offered in coffee shops, restaurants, or malls, generally lack WPA or WEP encryption, which means they are not secure. Therefore, if you need to use them for any service containing your personal data or sensitive information, avoid those networks. If you need to use them anyhow, make sure you can safely navigate, accessing only pages that use the https protocol.
- Avoid accessing unprotected web pages.
As we have mentioned earlier, if you really need to use a private Wi-Fi network, you must only access web pages that use the HTTPS protocol (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This protocol suggests that the information circulating through these web pages is securely encrypted, and no one else can intercept it.
- Always use strong passwords and change them regularly.
Passwords are the main resource for protecting digital identity for those with basic computer skills, even though most people do not give them enough attention that they deserve. It is a must that you choose a strong password, which should be 16 characters long with uppercase, lowercase, and alphanumeric characters. In addition, as a responsible user, you should avoid using the same password for two different services.
- Update your software regularly
It doesn’t matter whether you are using a Windows or Mac, operating systems must be updated regularly. Whenever a new software update is released, a warning pops up on your computer asking if you want to go ahead with the updates. It is essential not to avoid delaying the software update process, even if it means restarting the system and waiting for several minutes. Each software update brings an advanced version of the software, including reinforcement in its security features.
- Review permissions and privacy policies