What is doxxing and how can you protect yourself?
  • Vote Up0Vote Down venynxvenynx
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    What is doxxing and how can you protect yourself?
    Let’s admit it:
    these days our level of self-disclosure is sky-high. Websites,
    discussion forums, social media profiles filled up with personal
    details, photos, geotags – all telling the world about who and where you

    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?
    Searching, collecting and sharing personally
    identifiable information publicly against the target’s will is called
    doxing. The word ‘doxing’ comes from ‘dropping docs’ – a technique
    old-school hackers used as a revenge tactic back in the IRC times. What
    it meant was stripping away one’s anonymity to intimidate, harass, or
    even to draw the attention of law enforcement agencies. Of course,
    hackers, who strive to stay anonymous by any means, considered doxing a
    cruel attack.

    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

    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?
    Motives for doxing always come from a
    negative place – to humiliate, cause public embarrassment or harm
    reputation, either personal or professional. Attackers may seek to bring
    their target to justice in the public eye, causing a potential
    nightmare of social backlash.

    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?
    Methods for collecting information range from easy-as-pie info harvesting to advanced hacking.

    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:

    Analyzing file metadata
    By simply looking at your file metadata,
    an attacker can learn a great deal about you. For example, if you go to
    the ‘Details’ section of an MS Office file, you will see who created and
    who edited the file, as well as when and from what company any edits
    were made. Similarly, photos have the so-called EXIF data. It shows the
    model of a smartphone or camera, its resolution and the time when the
    photo was taken. Moreover, it can also reveal the location if GPS was
    enabled at the time of taking the photo.

    IP logging
    Hackers can slip an IP logger – an invisible piece of
    code – into your device through an email or a message so they can sniff
    out your IP address.

    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?
    The good thing is, there are steps you can take to avoid doxing or at least to minimize its harm.
    Follow these tips without delay to get peace of mind:

    #1: Check what info about you can be found online
    Search engines
    are likely the first place trolls go to collect info about a target. You
    can do the same to see what the Internet has to tell about you – simply
    run a search with your name on DuckDuckGo in the incognito mode.Why not
    Google? The great thing about the DuckDuckGo search tool is that it
    doesn’t do profiling and deliberately shows the same results to all
    users. This way, you can get the same view as a potential doxer.

    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
    For trolls, breaking into your
    online accounts is like opening Pandora’s box. This is why you should
    protect all your accounts by enabling two-factor authentication if
    there’s an option to do so. Even if an attacker happens to know your
    password, they will bump into a wall at the next authentication step.

    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
    If you haven’t changed your passwords
    for a while or, even worse, you’re using the same one for several
    accounts, wait no longer and create strong, unique passwords for each
    online service you’re signed up to.

    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
    People tend
    to share a lot of personal details on social networks, both
    intentionally and accidentally. However, to avoid potential harm of
    doxing, the less info you reveal to strangers the better.

    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)
    A Virtual Private Network
    is like a secure tunnel for your Internet traffic. Connecting to VPN
    encrypts your online data and hides your real IP address, so no snoopers
    could sniff your private information. With VPN, you can feel secure
    even on public Wi-Fi networks. Qwer432

    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.

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