How Do I Avoid Getting Doxxed?
Doxxing (sometimes written as “doxing”) is an online threat to user privacy. It’s the process of broadcasting private or identifying information about someone on the internet with negative and malicious intent. Doxxing includes searching, collecting, documenting, and publishing the personal information of a particular person or organization.
Hacker communities have been using this method for the past two decades. This practice was previously used by hackers to identify another hacker and get him arrested for illegal and unethical practices. But today, doxxing has become a major threat to everyone who uses the internet. It’s no longer only a hacker who can doxx — anyone can doxx you.
Doxxing is meant to harass and embarrass victims. It’s meant to get revenge or cause the victim physical harm. Larger doxxing attacks often cause significant financial and professional losses. In many cases, those who are doxxed are forced to change their identities and pay a large sum of money to remove unwanted personal information online.
Is Doxxing Legal?
If the information is publicly available and a hacker uses the information in a positive way, it’s legal. Otherwise, it’s unethical and illegal. If you are caught doxxing, you can be sent to jail under state criminal laws. Doxxing is rarely in the public interest and is used with malicious intent to intimidate, interrogate, blackmail, and control.
How to Avoid Getting Doxxed
The risk of being doxxed grows with the increasing amount of identifiable information one shares on the internet. While the threat of doxxing may be daunting, it’s important to understand the actions one can take to prevent doxxing. Here are the five most important actions to take in order to prevent doxxing:
1. Social Privacy Settings
Social media plays a vital role in our daily lives. Millions of people spend their time, and often communicate with strangers, on multiple social media platforms and groups. These strangers could be a group of hackers with malicious doxxing intentions. If you don’t know someone, it’s better not to engage with them. You should never share any personal information such as your photos, phone numbers, email, home address, etc. In addition, be wary of fake phishing sites. These pages are used to get email addresses by tempting people with free giveaways that don’t actually exist.
Keep your profiles private and remove any addresses, places of work, and specific locations from your accounts. Set your posts to “friends only,” and avoid discussing personal information that could be used against you.
2. Protect Internet Communications
Anything done on the internet can be easily traced by hackers, and daily conversations like messages and emails can be monitored. Hackers can also read your encrypted data through your internet connection. Each connection you make on the internet has your internet address on it. Moreover, they can trace your location with your IP address.
Investing in encryption tools will make your online communications private and keep you anonymous on the internet. In a recent interview with Nat Maples, GM of eCommerce and New Products at BullGuard VPN, he shared how BullGuard VPN is a way to guard against doxxing.
“BullGuard VPN firmly shuts down this doxxing avenue by hiding your IP address and applying military grade encryption to all your internet browsing and messaging. Even if someone finds a way to access your encrypted communications, it would take them years and hundreds of millions of dollars to crack the encryption”.
3. Protect your Computer
Keep your system up to date and secure. Use an internet security or antivirus program to stay safe from malware, ransomware, and other threats. Make sure your security software checks for updates and installs them automatically. Furthermore, scan your system regularly, as this will alert you of any suspicious or malicious activity.
4. Use Secure Passwords
Always use complex passwords, as they are more difficult to hack. Your password should be at least 12 characters with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and other special keyboard characters. It’s highly recommended to use a password manager to create secure, strong passwords for each account.
5. Vary Usernames and Passwords
Try to set unique usernames for each website you are signed up with. If you are signed up for a controversial website or forum, make sure your username is anonymous and cannot be traced back to you. For social media, avoid using your first and last name in your username, as this is a dead giveaway if someone is trying to locate and track you.
Posted by Susan Alexandra on Jun 21, 2019