How Can You Protect Yourself From Doxxing?
Social media has really made our lives transparent due to a lot of information we expose on it. Geo-tagging, sharing photos on social media and other digital footprints can leave you vulnerable to your service provider and several other data collecting websites. This can also lead to you being doxxed.
If you are concerned about the potential harms of doxxing, you should know how the process works and how you can protect yourself. In this article, we’ll discuss what it is, how it affects individuals, and whether doxxing is a legal or illegal practice.
What is doxxing?
Doxxing is a way to publish private information about an individual. It can damage relationships and reputations. It is also detrimental to society. Doxxing is an act of digital tyranny. Doxing works in a variety of ways, and the main purpose is to harass and intimidate the target. Doxxers may find an alias and stalk the person with emails, phone calls, and even personal information. They may even be able to steal the target’s identity.
The doxers can obtain personal information about their target by using public records or IP lookups. This information is often publicly available on the Internet. They can even find out a person’s political views by using government records.
Social engineering is another common method used by doxxers to get sensitive information from a victim. Phishing emails, for example, may contain malicious links that allow the doxxer to access the target’s social media accounts and personal information.
A case of doxxing attack has resulted in the death of a man in Kansas. A prankster had falsely reported a shooting at the man’s house and threatened to blow the house down if the police showed up. The SWAT team arrived at the home, where they shot him. While the incident had nothing to do with the online game, the death of Andrew Finch is a tragic example of how doxxing works.
How does doxxing work?
Doxxing has been around before the word came into widespread use, and it’s still practiced online. The term “doxing” was first used in 1996 as a way to expose online bullies. Doxxing is an act of online harassment in which the victims are exposed to private information that is usually false or inaccurate. Doxxing can be very harmful to the victim and their family. It can also lead to depression and even suicide.
- Doxxers can use information such as an IP address to gather personal information about their targets. The IP address is linked to a physical location (GPS), so they can find information about the owner of a social networking profile or an address. They can use other online records to collect further information about their victims.
- Public Wi-Fi networks can be hacked easily as doxxer can easily view real time data. In this way, information can easily be compromised.
- A file metadata can also reveal a lot of information to a hacker. A word file details can reveal the name of the editor and creator. In a lot of photos, location is being shown and that can easily be hacked.
How dangerous is doxxing?
Form of Online Harassment
Doxxing is a form of online harassment in which a person finds personal details about another person and releases that information publicly without the person’s permission. This can be dangerous as the information could be used by someone else to harass or harm the victim.
Serious cyber threat
Doxxing is a variation of the old hacking technique known as “dropping the dox.” While doxing is not a criminal offense, it can result in a public profile and a public name, which makes it an extremely serious cyber threat. Doxxing the real name of a target is not as serious as leaking their home address or email address. However, it can be dangerous for a public figure, such as a government employee, to be doxed.
Violating terms of service
Its consequences can be devastating. Although it is not considered a criminal act, it can violate the terms of service of websites that allow it. For example, Twitter has a policy that prohibits users from posting personal information without permission.
Is doxxing legal?
While it may be tempting to publish an anonymous person’s address on a public website, doxxing can actually be illegal. It’s illegal to disclose personal information, such as a home address or telephone number, without the person’s permission. It’s illegal to dox someone’s personal information for personal gain, and you could face serious consequences if you do it.
Is doxxing law the same for every country?
The law on doxing varies from country to country. In the United States, doxing is generally not a criminal offense, but it does fall under federal laws on stalking, harassment, and threats. Using an innocent person’s name and address to spread rumors can put their life on the line and expose them to harassment and abuse.
How can doxxers find information about a person?
Doxxers can find information about a person through any source, including public records, social media posts, and other private information. Depending on the target, doxxers can get information about their personal finances, past relationships, and other information. If they have enough money, they can even purchase more damaging information about a person to harass them further.
How to avoid being doxxed yourself?
Follow these steps by learning how to prevent doxxing attacks.
1. Update usernames and passwords every 3 months
The first step in protecting yourself from doxing is to make sure that your social media profile and web pages have the appropriate safeguards in place. This includes making sure that the usernames and passwords you use online are not linked to your real-life identity and update them every 3 months. If you have been doxed, it is important to update these details and change passwords. Your social media presence can also be compromised if you post information that is personal or embarrassing.
2. Create an incident log
One of the first steps in protecting yourself from doxxing is by creating an incident log. This is a simple file or spreadsheet in which you note the date and time, a description of what happened, and the outcome. You can also include screenshots and URLs. This will help you prepare for the next doxxing or legal issue that may arise. It will also help you identify any patterns that may appear.
3. Stop oversharing your personal information online
Avoid oversharing your personal information online. This can happen even when you’re just using social media for personal communication. If you have a lot of friends or connections on Facebook, you may be giving doxxers too much to work with. Moreover, don’t use the same username across platforms – this makes it easy for someone to track the history of your posts.
4. Use different usernames on different social networks
Always create different user names on different social networks. If you use the same username for a couple of accounts, doxers can link up all the accounts and compile a detailed picture of your activities. In addition, doxers purchase your personal information from data brokers who sell it to advertisers. Some people-search websites also sell comprehensive personal information.
5. Set up privacy settings on social media
You can avoid being doxxed yourself by making sure your personal information is kept private and hidden. You should set up privacy settings on social media sites and limit what people can see. You should also censor your posts in public forums. Locking down your social media accounts is another good idea because it limits the amount of communication you have with people online.
6. Use a VPN Service
Use a high-quality VPN service to protect your data and online information. It will help you in surfing privately and will provide the highest possible security. In this way, you won’t have to risk your privacy. Astrill VPN is trusted by millions around the world and provides the best subscription packages as low as $12.5/month. You can stay secure and anonymous while having the best browsing experience.
7. Practice good digital hygiene
One of the best ways to prevent a doxxing attack is to practice good digital hygiene. It’s also important to check your Facebook data regularly to see if it has been compromised. In the digital age, doxxers can cling to even the tiniest pieces of information, and you should not allow your personal information to slip through the cracks.
8. Sign up for google alerts
Doxing is an offense that can be very difficult to remove once your information is stolen. You should be sure that you’re stalking yourself online to remove any details you don’t want out there. You can also sign up for Google alerts to be alerted every time you have your personal details published online.
9. Use Strong passwords
You can also protect yourself from this attack by using strong passwords. These passwords should contain uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You can also use password managers to help you keep track of your passwords.
Common Techniques Used in Doxxing
Doxxing is a distressing practice wherein malicious actors use various techniques to uncover and expose private, sensitive information about individuals. The process often involves piecing together bits of publicly available information, exploiting social interactions, and taking advantage of vulnerabilities in online behavior.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the common techniques used in doxxing:
Social Engineering and Manipulation
Social engineering is a tactic that involves psychological tricks, impersonation, and creating scenarios to gain the victim’s trust. Following are some of the social engineering and manipulation tactics:
- Phishing Attacks
Phishing is a technique where attackers craft legitimate emails or messages, often mimicking official correspondence from banks, service providers, or other reputable sources. These messages may prompt recipients to reveal personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or other sensitive data. Once divulged, this information can be used to investigate further and doxx the victim.
Pretexting involves creating a fabricated scenario to manipulate individuals into revealing their details. Attackers may pose as coworkers, friends, or authorities, pretending to need information for legitimate purposes. This emotional manipulation encourages victims to lower their guard and share sensitive information.
Attackers distribute enticing content, like clickable links or downloadable files, that prompt users to interact. This interaction can lead to malware installation, granting attackers access to a victim’s device and potentially sensitive information.
Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Gathering
OSINT is the practice of collecting and analyzing information from publicly available sources. Attackers use the following OSINT techniques to gather data from websites, social media, public databases, and other online resources:
- Social Media Scrutiny
Attactails include birthdates, family members’ names, geographical locations, and interests. This information allows attackers to create a comprehensive profile of their target.
- Domain Information
kers closely analyze social media profiles for personal information. They may gather deAttackers to explore domain registration databases to identify information about website owners. This can include email addresses, contact details, and sometimes insights into an individual’s online presence.
- Public Records and Databases
Public records like property, voter registration, and court documents provide attackers with information. By cross-referencing these details, they can build a more detailed profile of their target.
Exploiting Publicly Available Information
This refers to attackers using information that is openly accessible online to piece together a profile of an individual.
- Online Forums and Communities
Attackers search online forums, message boards, and communities where individuals discuss various topics. Even seemingly harmless discussions can inadvertently reveal personal information or provide clues about someone’s habits and interests.
- Usernames and Online Handles
Information from one platform can be cross-referenced with other platforms to uncover additional information. A seemingly innocent username might lead to profiles with more personal data on other platforms.
- Geotagged Posts and Photos
Photos and posts shared on social media platforms may contain geotags, revealing the location where the content was created. This information can be exploited to track a person’s movements.
- Public Job Listings
Publicly available job listings can provide insights into an individual’s workplace, position, and contact information. Attackers can exploit this information to target someone more effectively.
Some Recent Doxxing Incidents
here are a few historical examples of notable doxxing incidents:
Sony Pictures Hack (2014)
In 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a massive cyberattack where a group called themselves the “Guardians of Peace” infiltrated its network. As part of the attack, sensitive emails, personal information about employees, executive salaries, and unreleased movies were leaked online. The incident involved a combination of hacking, data theft, and doxxing.
Ashley Madison Hack (2015)
The infidelity dating website Ashley Madison suffered a breach in 2015. The attackers, known as “Impact Team,” not only stole user data but also threatened to reveal the personal information of millions of users unless the website was shut down. The incident exposed personal details, including names, email addresses, and payment data of individuals who had used the platform.
Gamergate Controversy (2014-2015)
The Gamergate controversy involved a series of incidents targeting women in the video game industry. Those critical of the industry faced harassment and doxxing, with personal information being shared online, leading to real-world consequences and safety concerns for those targeted.
This incident, also known as “The Fappening,” involved the hacking and subsequent sharing of explicit photos of numerous celebrities. Attackers exploited vulnerabilities in cloud storage accounts and leaked private photos, leading to widespread privacy violations and public outcry.
Stolen Valor Doxxing (Various Cases)
There have been cases where individuals falsely claimed to be military veterans or recipients of prestigious awards. In these instances, online communities have uncovered and shared real identities and personal information, leading to the exposure of those engaging in deceit.
Twitter suspended the accounts of several prominent journalists who had covered Elon Musk, the platform’s new owner. The suspension came as a response to Musk’s tweet asserting that Twitter’s regulations against sharing personal information apply universally, encompassing journalists as well.
The effects of doxxing attacks can range from benign harassment to physical harm. Often, these attacks involve someone who has found your information online and uses it to harass you. In some cases, doxers may also buy your personal information from the dark web. These attacks can ruin your reputation and leave you feeling vulnerable.
While some cases of doxxing involve celebrities, it’s not uncommon for ordinary people to be the victim of this kind of cyberbullying. In most cases, people are doing it for personal reasons. People are using social media sites, background check sites, and tracking IP addresses to find personal details. There are many reasons why someone would do this, from seeking revenge to holding someone accountable or promoting social justice. However, by following the above-given measures you can protect your information online.
Author: Bisma Farrukh
Bisma is a seasoned writer passionate about topics like cybersecurity, privacy and data breach issues. She has been working in VPN industry for more than 5 years now and loves to talk about security issues. She loves to explore the books and travel guides in her leisure time.