What is Doxing and How Can You Avoid It?
Doxing (or doxxing) is a web-based act of publicly revealing someone's personal data, like their name, address, or other sensitive information. Doxing occurs without the victim's approval, with the aim of uncovering data meant to remain private. It can also include unmasking a person behind an unknown username and uncovering that person's genuine identity on the web.
Some doxing assaults are made with the intent of harassment or vengeance. Others target individuals who post intolerant remarks on the web or those who promote vicious and destructive things by using an anonymous account. Doxing tends to be extremely risky, particularly when someone's actual location, workplace, telephone number, email, or other data gets exposed. These people can be victimized quite easily as their information can be accessed easily.
Doxing attacks range from harmless and false mail sign-ups or food deliveries to highly hazardous ones, such as blackmailing a person's family or a close one, identity fraud, threats, and the possibilities of various cyber-crimes. Some situations can even escalate to the point of in-person aggravation.
How To Check If You've Been Doxed?
If you think you've been doxed, you'll usually come to know about it as soon as your data gets exposed publicly. By chance, if you are unable to see the information dump yourself, people who know you will probably make you aware of the dox. Meanwhile, you might be harassed through calls, online media, email, or even face-to-face, depending on the type of data that was revealed in the dox. If you start getting intimidating messages, immediately lock all your social media accounts. Check if your Gmail account is secure and also see if your Facebook account has been hacked. However, you should also be aware of the fact that your sensitive data can be available for sale on the dark web. And accessing the dark web is difficult without a unique search engine, like Tor.
How To Report Doxing?
If you're doxed, you should promptly take action towards it. You should initially report doxing assaults to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. These platforms consider doxing to be an infringement on their terms of service. But if the doxing assault comprises the revelation of your bank account passwords or equivalent data on the web, then it would fall under the category of illegal crimes. In this case, if someone sends you threatening messages, contact your nearby police station right away.
How To Prevent Doxing?
While it is almost impossible to guarantee that you will not get doxed, there are a few techniques you can follow to reduce the chances of getting doxed. The key is to be aware of what you post on your social media accounts and other online platforms. Given below are some tips to prevent doxing:
1. Set Up Google Alerts
Google alerts can notify you if any doxing takes place in terms of the revelation of your complete name, telephone number, place of residence, or other private information you are worried about. So make sure that you activate these alerts for your Google accounts.
2. Prevent Excessive Sharing Of Posts
Excessive sharing of posts via social media, online discussions, or messages can be potentially perilous. Sharing too much data provides doxers with a great amount of data that they might expose.
3. Update Your Account Privacy
Public social media accounts are more vulnerable to doxing as opposed to private accounts. This is because doxers can gain direct access to your posts if your account is public. Hence, making your social media accounts and posts private is a safer option on any day.
4. Use Different Usernames
If you use multiple social media applications, you should avoid using the same type of username on each platform. Try not to use the same username on Facebook that you use on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Why? It's simpler for doxers to keep tabs on your online activities if they just need to follow one username across the internet.
5. Use a VPN While Browsing
Signing up with a virtual private network, or VPN can safeguard your private data from doxers. When you connect to the internet through a VPN, your real IP address won't be visible. This implies that hackers will not be able to track the location of your area or any other relevant data.
6. Avoid Disclosing Personal Information
Nowadays a lot of surveys, polls, and questionnaires are becoming common online, and they can be leveraged by doxers to access your data. When filling out such questionnaires and surveys, don't fill in any sensitive information, like your address, school, college, or credit card details.
7. Don't Rely On One Email Address
You can support your security by making separate email addresses for separate purposes. For example, you could have one email address that you use just to sign-up for streaming platforms, music platforms, discussions, and other casual tasks. You can make use of another account that you use for professional purposes. Use this email address to coordinate with your associates, talk with your colleagues, and send reports to your boss. Lastly, use a third email address for communicating with your loved ones. Refrain from sharing this email address with anyone other than your family and close companions.
8. Robust Passwords are of Paramount Importance
Try to keep nosy parkers away from your private data by using robust passwords on important sites, for example, your online bank accounts, credit cards, and other transaction-related portals. Strong passwords can also hold hackers back from getting into your online social media platforms. This would prevent them from changing your account details on these platforms, getting your personal data, or posting any wrongful messages under your name. The best passwords contain a blend of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
9. Refrain From Sharing Certain Data
Take an oath to never post particular types of data on the web, like your Social Security number, place of residence, driver's license number, and any data with respect to financial accounts. Keep in mind that hackers can easily track emails and other messages, so you shouldn't include any private details in those.
10. Be Ready For Phishing Messages
Doxers could use phishing tricks to deceive you into revealing your personal address, birth details, or even passwords. Be careful when you get a suspicious message that supposedly comes from a bank or financial institution and asks for your personal details. It is perhaps a doxer on the other side. As a matter of fact, financial entities won't ever request this data by email.
The bottom line of this blog is that it is better to be safe than to be sorry. A little awareness upfront can prevent great regrets in the future. Share this blog with someone who needs to understand doxing and its prevention and help the person safeguard his or her priv