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What Is Doxing and How Can You Protect Your Data?

What Is Doxing and How Can You Protect Your Data?

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Perhaps you have heard of doxing before. Nevertheless, this term may still be unfamiliar to some people. However, whether you are familiar or not, everyone needs to be aware of the dangers associated with a possible doxing attack.

Everyone would like to ensure that their own data present on the internet is protected from identity theft and similar threats. But is doxing really that dangerous, and if so, what can you do to avoid data misuse? How secure is your privacy on the internet in reality?

What Is Doxing?

Doxing, short for “dropping dox” (documents), is the act of publicly revealing private or personal information about an individual without their consent. This information can include home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, and other sensitive details. The intent behind doxing can vary, but it often aims to harass, intimidate, or harm the targeted individual.

Many people equate doxing with classic hacking; however, doxing involves stealing data (documents) that are readily available and visible to anyone. The objective is to collect information in a highly targeted manner. In most cases, this is done without committing any crime, as it is achieved by thoroughly searching the internet for available information. However, the consequence of doxing is closely related to cyberbullying, where criminals seem to be protected under the pretext of doing something good for society.

How Does Doxing Work?

Doxing usually follows a certain procedure. Firstly, the information that is required is collected and collated. The information already exists; however it is usually scattered all over the internet.

Once the information has been collected, the next step is to bundle the information together and check that all relevant information is present. If, for example, you wanted to list all personal data, then you would check whether any information (such as the mobile phone number) is still missing.

If a comprehensive collection of information has been collected, it can be published or used for nefarious purposes such as blackmail. At this point, however, one is operating outside the boundaries of the law. The aim of the attack is to intimidate the persons concerned to such an extent that they are willing to do anything to avoid any (or further) humiliation associated with the publication.

It is often the case that the person concerned faces a campaign of harassment. They may be harassed, threatened and antagonised by mail, in chats or by phone. Criminals want to give the impression that they have found out everything about the person, often threatening them with the most serious crimes such as murder and rape. Many perpetrators even go as far as to spread hate messages and encourage others to partake in frightening the victim further.

When Is Doxing Most Likely to Occur?

Generally speaking, doxing can occur in any profession and involve any person. The predominant motive is usually revenge due to a break-up or rejection and professions with a high status in society are particularly affected. These include, for example, politicians and journalists. Politically active people can also quickly become targets.

Some examples of doxing

Doxing offers a wide range of opportunities and can therefore prove to be all the more dangerous.

Relevant examples are:

  1. Personal data is published on the internet. Personal data can include names, places of residence, information about friends and family members. This information is often easier to get hold of than one might expect, especially with social media, which provides an open channel to privacy invasion. Telephone numbers are also easily accessed via telephone books or databases. Further, using a commercial register makes it possible to quickly learn all the necessary information about a person’s financial status or possible negotiations. It is also possible to gather personal data via social engineering.
     
  2. Damage to reputation through publication of information. This example is self-explanatory. Through doxing, information can be made public that damages the reputation of the person concerned. False information, which doxing presents as truth on the internet, can thus also be circulated and have negative consequences for the victim.
     
  3. Private information concerning an individual is published. Similarly to the first point mentioned, private information is made available, such as a private person’s interests or hobbies. This makes the person vulnerable to criticism and can lead to the person becoming the target of a hunt.

How to Protect Yourself from Doxing

Doxing represents a very cowardly and criminal way of ruining peoples lives. Understandably, you would then want to ensure you are adequately protected to ward off possible doxing attacks.

Here are some possible measures you can take today:

  • Do not open unfamiliar email files or links under any circumstances
  • Encrypt your hard drives and USB sticks
  • Make sure your software is up to date
  • Use adequate virus scanners and firewalls
  • Enter as little private data as possible on the internet
  • Use complex passwords and make sure you use different login details
  • Avoid social logins via social media
  • Check your privacy settings on all social media platforms you use

Strengthen Your Defense Against Doxing with MetaCompliance

Doxing poses a serious threat to personal privacy and safety in today’s digital age. The deliberate exposure of sensitive information can lead to harassment, identity theft, and even physical harm.

To safeguard against such risks, it’s crucial to prioritise cyber security awareness and take proactive measures to protect your personal information online. One effective step is to participate in MetaCompliance’s privacy management and cyber security awareness training, designed to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the digital world securely. By educating your personal and staying vigilant, you can minimise the likelihood of falling victim to doxing and other cyber threats.

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