Doxxing is revealing and publishing someone’s personal information. This information is collected through various means and is combined together to create a complete profile of personal data. Though this is a popular technique used by hackers for more than a decade but doxxing is not limited to hackers only.
What is Doxxing?
Doxxing is a research-based work where doxxers use different mediums to collect personal information of the target. The means of collecting information mostly include online sources. There is a lot of data stored on the internet about each person. This includes the information shared on social media platforms and frequently visited sites. But there is a lot more on the internet about each person that is not shared by the users themselves. Like the property registration details, date of birth of children, school and workplace details of the family members, phone numbers, location details, and other data. These details are not vulnerable on its own as it is just a piece of information with no background but if these details are combined together and are arranged in a proper manner, these minor details may become extremely dangerous and may even ruin someone’s life.
Purpose of Doxxing
Doxxing is publishing someone’s hidden information or secretive details publicly but here the question arises that why anyone wants to take the pain of intense researching for just publicly exposing someone?
There are various intentions behind doxxing. Some of the intentions are not evil but most of them are.
- Most often doxxing is used as a mean to attack the enemies and opponents.
- It is also used for defaming public figures and influential personalities.
- Doxxing is also used to blackmail others and get financial and social gains.
- It is also used by predators to search their targets.
- Stalking and harassing are also the intention of some doxxers.
- It is also used to expose criminals.
Plausible Victims of Doxxing
The primary victim of doxxing are celebrities. As much as the love and appreciation that celebrities receive, they also have a large number of haters and enemies. Sometimes the jealousy among co-celebrities and at other times negative emotions of the haters are the reasons that evoke doxxing. Just to defame these celebrities, doxxers go at extended lengths to find any personal secrets or concealed past information to expose and humiliate them in public. Both the rising and senior actors, singers, and other media personnel are at the targets of doxxers.
Influential and popular figures like politicians, journalists, and motivational speakers are also one of the prime targets of doxxing. The main purpose behind publishing their secretive information or personal data is to defame them or cause potential harm. At times personal information of the public figures reveals only to make them and their families uncomfortable.
Doxxing is also used in rivalry and to take revenge. People with broken relationships and business tycoons may also become victims of doxxing.
Is Doxxing Legal?
Publishing someone’s information publically is unfortunately not illegal until and unless its illegal motives are revealed. Even legal departments also use doxxing to expose criminals and fraudulent. Doxxing is considered as an illegal act only if it is found to be used as a means of blackmailing, gaining monetary benefits, harassing others, and using the information for unauthorized purposes.
After Effects of Doxxing
Usually doxxing is not used for illegal purposes and the prime motto of it is to humiliate and defame others. It has many adverse outcomes like:
- It causes people to lose their jobs and their careers are ruined.
- It results in disapproval and rejection from friends and family members and sometimes people end up committing suicide.
- The revelation of past secrets often compels people to cut off completely from the world and delete their social media accounts.
- Victims of doxxing often receive threats and abusing messages, calls, and emails and have no way out than to leave their houses and deactivate their phone numbers and email accounts which results in a major setback.
5 Simple Ways to Prevent Doxxing
Doxxers are very intelligent people and it is really difficult to save yourselves from their spying eyes but it is not impossible. You can take various precautionary measures and protect your private information.
Social Media Confidentiality
Your social media accounts are the easiest data source for doxxers. Most people share a lot of their personal details on their social media accounts from their location to personal photographs and details of the family members to the workplace. These details are extremely vulnerable and can cause a lot of harm if used for any unauthorized purpose.
To prevent yourself from doxxing you need to control what you are sharing on the public forum. Also, limit your audience to your friends and family only. Apart from the information, you shared on social media the host sites also have some of your personal details like phone number, email address, birthdays, and also have a lot of information about your preferences and choices. You can also limit the use of these details by changing the privacy settings of your social media account.
WHOIS Blog Privacy
If you own a personal blog it has a lot to reveal about you other than what you share with your followers. The best way to stay safe is to opt for WHOIS protection. This conceals your personal information and does not let it post publicly through a domain registration.
Delete All Your Past Records
All the information you shared on the internet at any time in the past is saved there in one form or others. Your comments on a site even decades ago are there and can be used as a source of tracing you. To protect yourself from doxxing delete all your past records on the internet including all your comments and posts. For this purpose enter your name and emails on different search engines and you will be amazed to see how much easier it was to track you. Delete all the available records to stay safe in the future.
VPN or Virtual Private Network allows you to surf the internet as an anonymous person. It conceals your identity and location and let you establish a secure connection from remote servers. This does not allow any host site to get access to your personal information, let alone saving or tracking it. VPN also protects your online activities from spying and snooping as it provides an encrypted tunnel for your data to and fro the host sites.
Use Separate Emails for Gaming and Banking
Your email address is of crucial importance as all your professional accounts are linked with it like your banking account, workplace account, and maybe some other. All the gaming sites and social media apps ask you to share your email address. It is of course not a wise decision to use your email linked with your bank account to use for gaming purpose. So it’s a better idea to use a different email address for gaming and social media and different for crucial purposes. Remember your both email accounts should not be linked in any way as the hacking of one paved the way for others.
Doxxing is becoming a social evil and as much as you love to keep your private details to yourself doxxers are interested in exposing it. Protecting yourself completely from doxxing in this era of information technology is not possible yet you can save yourselves to a greater extent by using the internet wisely.
Susan Alexandra is a Cybersecurity and Privacy Enthusiast. She is a small business owner, traveler and investor of cryptocurrencies.