The protection of personal data has become essential in the modern digital environment. In the online world, “doxing” is a phrase that’s becoming popular. When someone purposely shares your private info with everyone, it’s called an invasion of privacy. Usually, they do it to cause trouble.
Imagine if your home address, phone number, and even credit card numbers—which are extremely sensitive—are revealed to someone without your consent. Beyond only being an infringement on one’s privacy, it may also put one’s safety in danger and frequently result in more serious issues like cyberbullying and stalking.
To keep oneself safe online, you must know the specifics of doxing. With an emphasis on strengthening your online defenses, this essay will examine this idea in depth and discuss its manifestations. You’ll be more prepared to traverse the digital world securely and with confidence if you master preventive measures and have a thorough grasp of this issue.
Doxing (or “doxxing”) is an abbreviation for “dropping documents” and the act of releasing identified information about someone online—particularly without their knowledge.
When personal information is shared online, it can lead to various problems. You may receive unwanted texts or emails if someone else obtains your phone number or address. Additionally, if private information is exposed, it can negatively impact how others perceive you, including your family, friends, or workplace, and may even result in losing your job or business.
Doxing can have serious consequences, such as identity theft, cyberbullying, harassment, online threats, and even in-person dangers.
Doxing is frequently used as a form of revenge. People frequently dox someone if they think they have been assaulted or insulted or if they just disagree with their beliefs. It is sometimes viewed as a form of vigilante justice—something that anybody can do to damage someone else that is not illegal and is difficult to stop.
Public personalities such as politicians, celebrities, and influencers are likelier to be targets of such abuse, but it may happen to anybody.
Doxing is frequently used to scare or disgrace someone, such as a journalist who has published a contentious piece with which others disagree. But you don’t have to be famous to endure this destiny.
Personal, private information about you that can be doxed is common.
- Your place of employment
- Your given name
- Your residential address
- Contact information, such as your phone number and email address
- Important data such as your social security number or passport number
- Private communication or personal photographs
- Embarrassing personal history
- Your credit card or bank account numbers
- Criminal history
By accessing public records, a person’s true identity can reveal a wealth of information. Certain sources openly disclose voting records, while government offices and insurance companies provide details about car ownership. Additionally, court records and job licenses are often readily accessible.
It is important to exercise caution when sharing information online, particularly regarding your current location, before posting images or providing details on public platforms like Reddit, consider the potential risks. Revealing information about local events or your children’s school could inadvertently disclose your whereabouts.
In the online world, some individuals may use specialized tools to monitor your activities and gather information about you. Even though your IP address is associated with your internet service provider, it can still reveal details about you. It is where a VPN can be of assistance.
Doxing is not necessarily criminal, but it is unethical. Doxing discloses information publicly available in public records and accessible legally.
So, even if your past criminal record, marriage certificate, or address is placed online without your permission, it is not unlawful in some jurisdictions—even if it is unethical and violates your right to privacy.
Doxing information that isn’t public, such as your credit card or bank account number, is prohibited.
Beyond the psychological anguish and powerlessness that doxing and online stalking create, it can also translate to a physical threat in extreme circumstances if your real-world location is doxed.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from online harassment, and guarantee that doxing or stalking does not become a physical threat to you or your family.
Our guide on tech safety for survivors of domestic abuse can help people who want to protect themselves using technology.
Legal deterrents, in addition to technology, have shown to be generally ineffective in curbing internet harassment. Unfortunately and unfairly, this means we must take action to defend ourselves and others we care about. There is hope: taking precautions against online abuse does not necessitate significant technological understanding. Solutions are inexpensive and simple to understand, so keep reading to learn how to safeguard yourself from doxing.
Separating your legal identity from your internet handle is your best defense against harassment and doxing by online stalkers.
If your online alias is linked to something other than your legal identity, it’s far more difficult to be doxed. Thus, fewer resources are needed to defend your physical space and safeguard others around you.
If you need assistance making one that isn’t personalized, utilize a random username generator.
Knowing what information is available to the public can help you predict and avoid getting doxed. Search for your name online regularly, or engage a private investigator to assemble the material they uncover on you.
Private records can be lawfully concealed by using attorneys and dummy businesses. Similarly, corporations in privacy-friendly regions can report automobile registration or homeownership.
When possible, remain anonymous online, and be aware of de-anonymization tactics. Revealing your legal name should be a personal decision, not something someone else dictates. Keep your online activities separate from anonymous browsing, pseudonyms, and legal identity to minimize risk and irritation.
Even if you clean your search history, Google Activity remembers every link you’ve followed, every picture you’ve clicked on, and every page you’ve visited. Disabling or deleting your Google Activity history is thus an excellent strategy to reduce the likelihood of this data being obtained and used against you.
It’s also a good idea to switch off your phone’s GPS and remove your Google Maps Timeline, which maintains track of routes and locations you’ve visited based on your location history.
Many social media networks default to “public” privacy settings. Changing this option is a simple but effective to avoid unwanted social media attention.
Take note of any additional information you may provide in your articles; photos may reveal much about where you are.
Use passwords that are easy to guess, such as “password,” simple sequences like “1234”, or the names or dates of birth of your partner, children, or pets.
Reusing passwords across several sites and applications is likewise a poor idea: if one account is hacked, all your accounts are vulnerable. If you need help remembering many long, complicated passwords, try utilizing a secure password manager across all your devices.
When feasible, use two-factor authentication. This added layer of protection means that after entering your password, you’ll be emailed a code to enter (typically via SMS, email, or an authenticator app on your smartphone) before you can access your account.
Because your device traffic is diverted over a safe and encrypted VPN tunnel, using a robust VPN method or to be more anonymous online. VPNs help keep your location secret by hiding your true IP address, preventing third parties from gaining information about your physical location.
If you connect to public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in cafés, hotels, or airports, you should use a VPN to encrypt your data, especially when using social media or online banking.
If you’re worried about doxing, online stalking, or things getting worse and becoming physical threats, there’s a guide that can help keep you safe. It covers a lot about staying safe online, especially for people dealing with domestic abuse. You can find it here—it’s full of helpful info to protect yourself.