What Is Doxxing?
Doxxing first came about with the expression, “dropping dox”. This referred to a tactic where hackers and other online criminals would put malicious content or code on their competitors sites and/or devices.
The modern-day version of doxxing extends from that original expression. It’s an online method where someone retrieves and shares private information about a person or company publicly with malicious intent. Typically, it is used by hackers to expose the truth on controversial figures who would rather remain anonymous online. Information used in doxxing can also be found on social media platforms, public records, and databases.
Places Where Doxxers Can Find Information About You
– IP Address
First, if you don’t know what an IP (Internet Protocol) Address is, it’s a number label unique to a device that’s connected to a computer network. An example of one could be, “64-77-232-35”. Each device’s IP address can be traced back to the network’s (aka the user’s) location. Often, doxxers will use an IP logger, which contains invisible code, in an email to get a person’s IP address. However, having the IP address alone cannot uncover a person’s identity, just their location.
– Social Media
Even if your social media account is private, doxxers can still find information about you. Just because your account is private, doesn’t mean your friends’ accounts are. If they’ve tagged you in posts or photos, that may expose private information related to your life. Doxxers look for basic information like your name, birthday, email address, where you live, where you’ve been, and more.
– Data Broker Companies
Data brokers make the whole issue of consumer data privacy worse. They purchase customer information lists from businesses and companies, specifically those running contests or sweepstakes. However, doxxers usually don’t retain the information they get from data brokers as they would have to pay for it.
– Person Search & Phone Lookup Sites
There are numerous sites online that allow anyone to search a person’s name or phone number and learn more information about that person. A doxxer could easily use these sites to search any of this information and learn TONS about the person without them knowing. Many of these services get their information from private databases and public records.
When any business creates a website and registers a domain, the registered information is public in the WHOIS database. The information that’s listed includes your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you don’t want your real information being listed, you can always see if it can be changed, use fake information, or use an email you don’t normally use.
– Wi-Fi Network
It’s surprising how easy it is for hackers to access peoples’ devices via Wi-Fi network. A private Wi-Fi network is less hackable, unless you don’t reset the default password. If a public Wi-Fi network is infiltrated, doxxers can easily intercept a device’s information and record the data.
What Information Could Be Found About You Online?
There’s no telling how much information can be found about a person online. It also depends on how well a person is at hiding their digital footprint.
Here’s a summary of the information that’s likely to found about a person online:
- Full Name
- Email Addresses
- Current and Past Home Addresses
- Social Media Accounts
- Phone Numbers (Old and New)
- Location History
- Job and Educational History
- Sibling Names
- Dating Status
- Date of Birth
- Pet Types and Names
- Interests and Hobbies
Is Doxxing Illegal?
Yes, Doxxing is illegal. It’s against the law to obtain information online using illegal tactics, such as hacking, and then sharing that information. Along with this, it is illegal to use doxxed information to harass, stalk, assault, intimidate, or invade the privacy of someone.
How To Protect Yourself From Doxxing Attacks
– Use A Private Wi-Fi Network
To help secure all of your home device activities, use a private Wi-Fi network. Now, this alone will not guarantee that doxxers will not get your information, but it will help. With your network, make sure to change the default password that came with your router to something complicated and hard to guess.
– Review Privacy and Data Sharing Settings
With most social media and online accounts, apps, and devices, you get access to privacy settings. You should review the privacy settings on all of your accounts and devices. Some common security settings you’ll come across include enabling security questions and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). In your privacy settings, you may also come across settings regarding data sharing. You may be able to decide who your data gets shared with and if it gets shared with companies.
– Use A VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) provides an extra layer of security for Wi-Fi networks. This technology enables an internet user to send and receive information securely, without it being intercepted. To protect you from doxxers who are looking to get your IP address, a VPN will provide you with a new temporary IP address.
– Antivirus Software
Antivirus software has stood the test of time in protecting people from malicious code, viruses, malware, and internet viruses online. Just install the software and set it to scan your device(s) daily. And thankfully, you don’t need a paid software program to get great antivirus software!
– Have Secure Login Information
With any of your online accounts, make sure you have strong and secure login information. This includes using a different unique username and password for each account. A big no-no is using the same password for multiple accounts. You also want to avoid clicking those convenient buttons that say “Login With Google” or “Login With Facebook.”
– Hide Your Domain Information On WHOIS
As stated previously, if you have a domain, your information is automatically added for public viewing on WHOIS. Usually through your domain registrar, you’ll be able to pay a small fee to have some of this information hidden. Otherwise, you could use a fake or less commonly used email address or phone number.
– Opt-Out Of Person Search & Phone Lookup Sites
To avoid doxxers obtaining your public information online, you can opt-out of phone and person search websites. Here’s a list of some of the most popular ones:
- White Pages
- Kiwi Searches
- Instant Checkmate
- People Finders
That’s everything there is to know about what doxxing is and how to protect yourself from it. Even with these precautions, there’s no guarantee that your information won’t be retrievable.