The world of technology has become so complex due to its exponential growth, everything has become interlinked and nothing is personal anymore. Once on the internet, your identity becomes a pretty much shared property. It is accessible to all and anyone looking for it.
How is my personal information available on Google?
First things first, let’s unleash how your personal information pops up on the internet. Interestingly, Google is the one-of-a-kind search engine that can instantly transport you to any website on the globe. There are 3.5 billion searches each day, totaling 1.2 trillion every year, which is not surprising, given the fact that Google accounts for more than 92 percent of all Internet searches. Google keeps track of all of them, including yours.
The amount of Google data that has been stored is staggering. Google’s search index already has over 100 billion gigabytes of data. They do, however, want every new bit of data, even yours, since that is how they generate money. A lot of money, actually; the firm was recently valued at $346 billion! All of the information they gather is then sold to people-search websites and advertising agencies.
How is that a problem?
Since Google stores almost everything you do on different websites, it has the potential to compromise your privacy and safety. A simple Google search of your name will reveal a lot of information about you. Which means everyone, including cybercriminals, has access to it. Once they get some surface-level information, they can utilize it to delve deeper and find financial or other sensitive data, such as your Social Security number.
This is not just limited to individuals but also affects companies. According to Herald, cyber-attacks can render organization’s data unavailable, resulting in a negative impact on its reputation and financial implications.
Also, according to recent news, JBS, a meat sales company, admitted paying $11 million as ransom to hackers. They knew they needed to look after their staff and customers and it would compromise their future business if they did not take this step right away.
Could you be a victim of a cyberattack?
According to research, most cyberattacks aren’t very sophisticated and complex and occur because of data breaches.
If you’re reading this, it’s quite probable that your personal information is public knowledge. And when we say “public,” we are referring to everyone everywhere who has access to an internet connection.
Now before you go looking for a Google link to erase your personal information, it’s important to understand that Google itself doesn’t hold any information on you. It just searches the Internet for anything containing your name, then publishes and sells the results.
How to remove your personal information from Google?
Here are a number of routes you can take to remove your information from Google:
Request Google’s assistance
If someone has uploaded critical information about you, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, and the site’s owner refuses to delete it, you can file a legal request with Google to have it removed. Although the removal process may take some time and there is no assurance that it will be effective, it is your best option in such a vulnerable circumstance.
Opt out of data broker sites
Data broker firms and people search sites gather your personal information. They collect data about everything you do online and sell it to third parties, mostly to send you better-targeted ads and sell you more goods.
If you opt out of these data broker sites, you’ll almost certainly opt out of Google search results, making it considerably difficult for intruders to find you. You may do it yourself with the help of some guides and instructions, or you can pay for a service that will do it for you.
Revisit your social media
Social networking is adored by search engines. All of the main search engines’ algorithms place social networking sites high in their search results. And if you have any social media account with your full name, any search of your name and photo will bring the account to the top of those search results.
Secure your social media accounts as the first step in
removing your identity from the internet search engine results. You should be
aware that this entails making them private, not adding your phone number to
publicly visible spaces, and not sharing personally identifiable information
Browser extensions to the rescue!
A bit of a more preventive measure, but browser plug-ins/extensions can block website trackers. This ensures that they don’t form an online profile of you using cookies and don’t track you. All major browsers are compatible with these plug-ins that you can get online, easily. So once you’ve deleted data from your browsers, cleared all cache and cookies, you can start anew and protect yourself online.
Data removal from E-commerce sites
You’d be amazed how many public E-commerce accounts there are. For example, did you realize that Amazon even makes your Wish Lists publicly available? Yep! You’ll need to log into your account and change each list’s visibility to private, which stops search engines from indexing it.
Delete email accounts
Another tactic to remove you from internet search engines is to delete old email accounts. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but it is a path to prevent any unauthorized users from gaining access to all of your history.
Consider this scenario: a hacker obtains your email address and posts it publicly. It is now visible to everyone – and may be linked to your current profiles. Try removing linked email addresses after you have deleted all of your previous profiles, comments, and posts. That would not keep you from appearing in searches, but it will keep your email address (and hence your online presence) hidden.
Your data is an essential asset for hackers. Its privacy is something one cannot afford to be lazy about. Any sort of online presence and activity is risky if not done in a secure environment. Therefore, ways to ensure privacy on Google and relevant platforms are necessary.