By Marie Miguel
Many people have learned techniques to steal personal information from those who are trying to use the Internet as part of their daily routine.
For families, nothing is worse than a stranger discovering where you live, what’s in your banking account, and who lives with you in your household. Thus, for some people, the option to completely delete their presence from the Internet is a tempting offer.
There are many steps to take in truly being anonymous online, such as obtaining VPNs and deleting social media accounts.
Internet safety is paramount for parents, because the Internet, while being a profoundly useful tool, can be used by people with bad intentions to learn about and potentially gain access to your children. This can put certain parents in a difficult spot because they may not want to completely ban their children from using the Internet, but they also don’t want their children to unintentionally get themselves into embarrassing or hurtful situations online.
Peaceful parenting may be the answer. With peaceful parenting you may be able to protect and discipline your children without ever going against your kind nature. BetterHelp can offer more information about peaceful parenting, along with a wide-ranging database of educational information about psychology, familial relationships, and mental health.
Taking all the necessary precautions in deleting your online presence will take time. Using different passwords for your accounts and keeping them in a secure place, like a password-protected location rather than a piece of paper or a normal document, are good starts.
If you are a concerned parent or looking for more in-depth ways to protect your identity, consider reviewing the following steps in deleting your presence from the Internet.
Delete old accounts from forgotten services
The first step is deleting old accounts you no longer use from services that have been forgotten or replaced with other sites.
Although you do not engage in these accounts, hackers may pull out information from them that can pinpoint your personal information. These can include banking information, addresses, and other details that can put you and your family at risk.
To prevent your old accounts from being used against you, try these tips:
- Search your password manager on your desktop or mobile devices.
- Your browser may also have a built-in password manager, which may remember each of the accounts you have used. If you have only created accounts on your phone that you do not use, check the device’s manager as well.
- If you do not use a password manager, then search through all of your emails. Specifically, type in keywords such as “welcome,” “verify,” “free trial,” and similar phrases.
- Through this search method, you may come across old accounts you’ve forgotten about, giving you the chance to delete them.
Now that you have compiled a list of accounts you no longer use, your next step should be to delete them.
However, some accounts may not provide an easy way to eliminate them. So, here are a few resources for deleting accounts:
- Search for the name of the website your account is associated with for a “delete account” feature on Google and other search engines.
- Visit JustDelete.me, which houses an accessible database with clear steps on eliminating a plethora of digital accounts.
- Contact the website’s support and inquire about removing your account.
If you cannot delete your old accounts, consider turning them into burner accounts. Simply use fake names and information and create a few burner accounts for each of your forgotten services.
By doing so, when someone tries to look up accounts on certain websites, your burner accounts will show up, which can mislead hackers.
Lastly, burner accounts are a legal method that could help you from having your information data-mined across multiple services.
Check to see if your information has been compromised
Now that you have deleted your old accounts, you may be curious if any of your information has been compromised.
First, you can use boolean searches on Google to properly locate any leaked details. To perform these searches, you must follow these steps:
- Use “ ” when conducting boolean searches to maximize your security when looking up your username.
- Then, search your account name in this exact way: “<account_name>” or you can search “<account_name>” + “<password>”.
- Once you hit search, you may find your information on Pastebin links for underground databases, which are publicly accessible online.
- Various services are found on these domains as it is a normal process.
- Note down the passwords and information that has been compromised, and change your information or delete the accounts if you so desire.
Boolean searches are exhaustive, but will not include private databases as part of its search results. However, you can use haveibeenpwned? For more information on private databases. The site asks you to type in your email address or phone number. It will cross-reference your data with accounts compromised in boast breaches.
If your account is in the clear, then there will be a green page saying “Good news” with tips on how to bolster your security.
If your information has been compromised, you will see a red screen saying “Oh no — pwned!” and showing how many data breaches your email was involved in. Some links may be from Pastebin, but to be safe, you should take the chance to change passwords.
Remove yourself from Google
After clearing out old accounts and making sure you know which online profiles have been hacked, the ultimate step is to remove yourself from Google.
Since deleting your social media profiles cannot hide your presence on Google, use the Google Console.
You can request that they delete or update their search engine to remove any cached results if you provide a link to each of them. It will take a few months organically for the search engine to be updated.
One more option is disallowing Google from legally touching any of your data. You can do so by changing the settings on Google’s Activity Controls. The settings that you can turn off include:
- Web & App Activity
- Location History
- Youtube History
Furthermore, strip down the privacy settings for every service you still use, such as your email or social media accounts like Facebook. Make your Facebook account entirely private so that people cannot access your private photos.
Secure your accounts
After making sure that you are invisible on Google and setting your online accounts to private, there are a few clean-up techniques left for you to use.
First, delete your old emails and change the security questions and passwords frequently.
Next, invest in a VPN to better protect your Internet connection. A VPN masks your IP address by routing your connection run by your VPN host. Thus, third parties cannot see what you are doing online.
In addition, there are a few benefits of VPNs, such as:
- Encrypting your IP address, which allows you to send and receive information without the risk of anyone seeing your activity.
- A kill switch, so that if your connection suddenly drops, the VPN will detect the drop and quit preselected programs, which can reduce chances of data compromise.
- Having a multifactor authentication tool, in which a code is sent to your phone, preventing third parties from accessing your connection.
A few other tidbits to keep in mind include choosing a VPN that has had a public audit, which ensures it has no logs. Having no logs means that there is no record of your Internet connections.
Trying to be secure online is time-consuming; however, the result is a safer Internet connection.
While it is possible to be safe while still being connected to the Internet, these steps are a good precaution, especially for those who want their children to use the Internet without concern.
About the Author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.