As the recent NSA leaks have revealed, our digital lives make it very difficult to maintain anonymity and protect our privacy — especially since we tend to make it especially easy for those who would track us. But despite how it may seem, there are ways to minimize your digital footprint that necessarily go beyond curbing the amount of personal information you share through social media.
One way to do that is to use disposable emails and logins. The more accounts you have, the more traceable you are on the Internet. But using anonymous accounts limits your footprint and reduces the amount of spam you’ll get from those accounts.
Alternate Emails: Once minimized Websites that solicit user comments are increasingly requiring people to identify themselves through Facebook or email logins, but never give either your real name or your real email address, even if you only plan to visit that site once. One login can stay with you forever. Instead, use a disposable email address like those offered by mailnator.com specifically for this purpose.
Shared Logins: Similarly, services like bugmenot.com offer shared logins and passwords that are free to any and everyone to use. These should get you wherever you want to go and, logically, don’t require you to give any personal data to get them.
Timed Accounts: If you’re logging into a site you’re confident you’ll never come back to, try using an email address with a very short lifespan. Guerrilamail.com offers addresses that lasts for 60 minutes and 10minutemail.com, as the name would suggest, has accounts with a 10-minute lifespan.
Browser Plugins: Firefox and Chrome both offer a lot of plugins to secure your Internet privacy, including programs like MaskMe (for Chrome) that can anonymize your email address for login purposes.
Of course, minimizing your footprint also requires knowing it. Perform an in-depth analysis of all of your digital data by listing all of the social media sites you use, any website of any kind you’ve ever had an account on, and compile all of the usernames and logins you’ve used. Close old accounts, delete personal information from social media sites you don’t wish to share and continue to be vigilant about what you share and what others share about you. If you want or need help, services like DeleteMe will take up the charge of removing your personal information from various sites for a fee.