What is doxxing and how can you protect yourself?
We leave our footprints all over the Internet. And if there happens to be someone who is eager enough to collect all that info and share it publicly, you are likely to become a victim of doxing.
What is doxxing?
Fast-forward to these days, doxing is a privacy-invading tactic that cyberbullies employ. You don’t even have to be a public figure – absolutely anyone can become a victim if they get on the radar of a bad character.
Just imagine: you leave a comment on an Instagram post. The owner of the page doesn’t like your opinion and decides to teach you a lesson by doxing you – publicly revealing your real identity, email address, telephone number, the company you work for and other details he or she can find on the Internet.
How harmful can doxxing be?
Again, doxing involves only the info that already exists somewhere on the Internet and can be dug out one way or another. The essence is putting it all together, piece by piece, and making it easily accessible to anyone. Doxing material can be a mix of personal details, financial documents, network data, embarrassing photos and other private files, signed petitions, as well as publicly shared opinions on social networks and discussion forums. Regardless of its extent, doxing is a serious privacy violation.
How do doxxers collect info?
Sometimes all it takes is compiling publicly available data. Combine a high level of self-disclosure with a low level of security – and voilà! An attacker can learn a surprising amount about a target by just grasping info that is publicly available online.
Here are other common techniques:
Wi-Fi (packet) sniffing
Analyzing file metadata
Of course, the most persistent doxers can go far beyond than the mentioned, so it’s important to know what prevention steps you can take to avoid unpleasant consequences of doxing.
How can you prevent getting doxed?
#1: Check what info about you can be found online
Once you know what info about you is out there, try to take as much content off as possible. However, it can be challenging.
#2: Use two-factor authentication
Although any kind of 2FA is better than nothing, it is recommended to avoid choosing SMS as a method of verification, as messages still can be intercepted. It is better to use trusted authentication apps, such as Google Authenticator.
#3: Secure your passwords
What makes a password strong? Using at least 10 unique characters and making use of passphrases. Nevertheless, lengthy passwords are difficult to remember, so it is recommended to use a password manager, such as LastPass. Not only will it generate unique, lengthy passwords, but also keep them secure without you having to remember them all – just a single master password.
#4: Control your privacy settings on social networks
Your Facebook profile can be a goldmine for doxers if you don’t pay attention with whom you share your info. Make your profile, photos and status updates visible to friends only. Also, go through your ‘friends list’ regularly to eliminate those who you don’t know or don’t have to be in contact anymore.
Facebook lets you customize your privacy settings so you can stay in control of what you share and with whom. Dedicate some time to review your profile settings and adjust them for the sake of privacy.
#5: Use a virtual private network (VPN)
When choosing a VPN download, pick the one that follows a strict no-logs policy, like RitaVPN. Extra security features, such as protection against malware and an ad blocker also comes in handy when cutting the ways doxers might try to access your private data.