Your digital footprint is a record of your online activity. It shows where you've been on the internet and the data you’ve left behind. Your footprint grows when you deliberately share something online, or when sites and apps track your activity without your permission. When your data falls into the wrong hands, you could be at risk of identity theft.

Your digital footprint is a record of your online activity. It shows where you've been, the data you’ve shared, and the traces you've left behind.

It might help to think of it this way:

Imagine you’re walking on the beach. Each step you take leaves behind an impression. Do this every day, and your footprints start adding up. They don’t just show where you've been; they indicate where you’re heading.

Whenever you sign up, log in, or hit send, you’re leaving an impression behind. Sadly, these types of footprints aren’t washed away by the tide. That’s why it’s so important to make informed decisions about what to share.

How does data arrive in your digital footprint?

Your digital footprint grows in many ways. Here are two types of information that your footprint can include: 

  • Information you share by choice, also known as your active digital footprint. For example, your footprint may grow when you deliberately post on social media, sign up for a newsletter, or leave an online review. 

  • Information about you that is collected without your consent, also known as your passive digital footprint. When an app collects your data without your knowledge or permission, or when a website tracks your activity by installing cookies on your device, that information can become part of your digital footprint. Also, when you allow an organization to access your information, that organization may sell or share your data with outside parties, which can further grow your footprint.

Examples of data in your digital footprint

Although it might be hard to believe, it’s not uncommon for a person to have hundreds of items appear in their digital footprint. How is this possible?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the actions you may take that increase the size of your digital footprint. We’ve broken these down into five categories: shopping, financial, health and fitness, reading and news, and social.

Shopping data

  • Making purchases online

  • Signing up for coupons or creating an account

  • Registering for newsletters

  • Downloading and using shopping apps

Financial data

  • Opening a credit card account

  • Using a mobile banking app

  • Buying or selling stocks

  • Subscribing to financial publications and blogs

Health and fitness data

  • Registering your email address with a gym

  • Subscribing to a health and fitness blog

  • Receiving health care

  • Using apps to track your activities and workouts

Reading and news data

  • Subscribing to an online news source

  • Viewing articles on a news app

  • Signing up for a publication’s newsletter

  • Reposting articles and information you read

Social data

  • Using social media on your computer or devices

  • Logging into sites with your social media credentials

  • Connecting with friends

  • Sharing information, data, and photos with your connections

  • Joining a dating site or app

These are just a few examples of the types of information that makes up your digital footprint, and the types of activities that increase the amount of information found there.

Why is your digital footprint important?

When your personal information falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to commit identity theft and fraud.

The more information that exists about you online, the bigger your digital footprint — and that can mean an increased risk of fraud happening to you.

How to track your digital footprint

Staying protected in today’s digital era requires a shift in our way of thinking. That's why we created the Allstate Digital Footprint® — to help you better manage your footprint and reduce the amount of your data that lives online.

Check out our article on how to protect your digital footprint to learn more.