What is Doxing and how can you Protect Yourself? | Best Guide 2022d
Sep 27, 2022
Doxing is a kind of criminal action of stealing and revealing the personal information of someone online without asking their consent. It can be extremely dangerous for the victim. Learn how to protect yourself from doxing.
Here Is What is Doxing and how can you Protect Yourself?
The term doxing literally means a dropping dox. As dox refers to documents. Simply put, it is a criminal act to vent out hatred or enmity online.
Doxing aka doxxing is the criminal act of revealing the personal information of someone online without their consent. The sensitive information ranges from your basic information such as your full name to sensitive one like your social security number. Doxing, more than often, incurs severe psychological and financial stresses on the victim.
As this despicable practice predates the era of the internet, the specific terminology ‘doxing’ first emerged in the 1990s, ensuing a feud between hackers. T
he rival hackers would tear apart the anonymity of each other by dropping docs. The docs turned into dox and eventually became a verb by itself.
In December 2011, a hacktivist group named “Anonymous” revealed the personal information of over 7,000 law enforcement members who had been probing them. The same group then targeted the members of the KKK and also doxed Q-Anon pros.
Raison d’être of Doxing
Experts assert that the reason behind doxing varies. More than often, it is conducted to take revenge for personal, political, collective, or other grudges.
The perpetrator tries his level best to humiliate, intimidate, or punish the victims in question. The twist of this streak of events is that doxers perceive their actions as rights deemed wrong.
They consider this way as an avenue of public justice and revealing information for the public good. Nonetheless, this psyche is ill-conceived and parochial at best. Whatever the reasons are, doxing tramples upon privacy and put people in the dock with dire consequences.
The information at Stake through Doxing
The severity of doxing can be as trivial as fake delivery orders to as serious as cyberbullying, identity theft, or even physical harassment.
More than often, prominent personalities such as journalists, politicians, dignitaries, and celebrities suffer this menacing danger.
Doxing has emerged as a lethal weapon, having overarching ramifications from online to the real world. Usually, the revealed information contains:
Social security number
Personal contact number
Embarrassing life accounts (all skeletons out of the cupboard)
Modus Operandi of Doxing
Following are some of the cutting-edge methods used for doxing. Let’s have a look into these.
Keeping track of the username
As most people use the same username for a variety of online services, it allows the doxers to project a profile of the potential target. This also helps doxers to know the inside-outs, disposition, and activities of the doxers.
Hunting WHOIS databases
Users who own a domain name have their personal information saved in registries. These registries are unsafe, and the information can be retrieved via WHOIS searches. Hence, it is highly pertinent to obscure personal information at the time of subscription.
Phishing is a high-ranking evil tool to extract information from naïve netizens. Doxers utilize this modicum as their prime weapon.
Stalking social media accounts
Another popular mode of garnishing the material for doxing is stalking social media accounts. Doxers get your prominent information from social media activities, and the material you have racked into the vulnerable platforms.
Modern-day doxers also derive patterns from these scattered pieces of information and may be able to answer the security questions too.
Gleaning government archives
Governments usually don’t bother much to care about the users’ security. Doxers often hit hard on these sweet spots. They penetrate government websites and steal official records from public documents such as business licenses, DMV records, marriage certificates, and voter registration logs.
The IP address is vital for the doxer to know your physical location. Once they get hold of your physical addresses, they use a mix of social engineering tactics to extract more information about you. Finally, the extracted information is doxxed to give perpetual headaches to the victim.
Contact number lookup
There are many reverse contact number lookup services that allow you to know the identity of a person who owns a particular phone number.
Not only do some paid services provide names, but also reveal additional and sensitive types of information such as a residential address, other phone numbers, and social media accounts.
Data packets sniffing
Packet sniffing works in sync with the doxing. Doxers intercept the packets and steal the information contained herein. The packets may include credit cards, bank accounts, and passwords.
It is just like robbing a bus en route. Doxers steal these data packets through multiple ways like cracking and capturing data flowing in and out.
Buying from data brokers on Dark Web
Data brokers are the overarching free services all over the internet. These services range from VPNs to applications, and search engines to websites. In essence, the bread and butter of these services are generated from selling data.
More than often, the data is sold in raw form and used to assess the consumer choice, but some unscrupulous sell this data in true form to doxers. The dark web is considered a haven for this purpose.
How to protect yourself from doxing
If you have ever participated in any social media activity, posted anything online, or added up any information then it is highly likely that doxers are all set to haunt you. Fortunately, there are some nifty ways of steering clear of this danger.
Subscribe to a VPN
The best approach for keeping the doxers at bay is subscribing to VPN. VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a handy service that makes you completely anonymous during internet surfing. It means, doxers can never know about your real identity, and they lurk in the dark.
All communication is private, and you are never exposed to cyber threats, malware, viruses, social engineering, or phishing thanks to VPN.
There are many VPNs in the market. It is also difficult to recognize a trustworthy partner. Our editor makes this task easier for you.
After deep research, FastVPN is highly recommended owing to its high grade of reliability, portability, encryption, exclusivity, and economical pricing plans.
There are multiple codes of cybersecurity. Once you adhere to these good lines of defense, doxers fall short of their nefarious plans. It is recommended to keep your software updated, and plug any identified loopholes periodically.
Use a mix of passwords
Easy guess passwords do not qualify the definition of a good password. A strong password should be a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers as well as symbols. You also have to change the passwords regularly. If you cannot remember the odd combinations then you must try password manager rather than allowing convenience to turn into a nightmare in the long run.
Pick different usernames for separate platforms
A good caution is to pick different usernames for different platforms, especially for the popular ones like YouTube, Reddit, or 4Chan.
If you stick to the single name, doxers can easily track you down through comments. On the flip side, using different usernames makes the job harder for cybercriminals.
Create task-based different email accounts
Your email accounts should be categorized for different tasks i.e. personal, professional, and spam. The personal email should be reserved for family, friends, and acquaintances. Professional for work-life and career domains.
Lastly, spam-based email accounts should target promotions and undue sign-ups. Moreover, the user should also refrain from adding self-explanatory information (a bad email example: name.surname.Datefirstname.lastname@example.org).
Scrutinize your social media accounts
To prevent the menace of doxing, you should review the privacy setting frequently. A strategic mind is a must-have whether you are sharing personal or professional information. Tightening privacy settings is always a recommended option.
Prefer multi-factor authentications
Multi-factor authentication means the penetrator requires two sets of information to access your account. You may blend the password with the phone number. If doxer anyhow gets your password, it is still an uphill task for them to decipher the account.
Doxers bombard a streak of emails to hunt you down. The phishing-laced emails can steal your sensitive personal information including passwords. If any entity asks for your personal information, it’s better just give them a blunt snub.
Be anonymous for WHOIS
WHOIS is a universal database for all active domain names. Public registration at WHOIS solicits several information. Nevertheless, it is better not to disclose your actual identity with WHOIS. This data haven has become a heaven for the doxers. They pick, hit, and run!
Ask Search Engines to omit your personal information
If your personal information ranks in Google or any other search result then you may ask them to remove the particular chunk. Almost every search engine has this support feature.
Take online permissions and quizzes with a pinch of salt
Online quizzes might seem innocuous, but these are also the rich information depots that you voluntarily provide without thinking twice.
Doxers usually frame quizzes to distract your attention and garnish the information stealthily. These are traps at best. Access permission is the other side of the coin.
You should also analyze any potential doxing attack attached to it. Suppose an image processing app is asking permission to sneak into your contact details then it’s not normal at all.
Way out if you are trapped by doxers
The common reaction to being doxed is fear if not panic. Feeling anxious is understandable, but it won’t help you at all. Nonetheless, for stepping out of the trap, you need to take some concrete steps. Our suggested SOP is as follows:
Report at earliest
First of all, you should report it to relevant channels. Every platform has settled terms & conditions and community guidelines. You must approach this channel in the first place.
Take Law Enforcement on board
If you seem that the doxing danger has been snowballed into an imminent personal threat then you must also consult the local police authority too.
Thirdly, document all the proofs by taking screenshots of the posted information. These pieces of evidence are necessary for future reference.
Take care of your financial information
If doxers have posted your financial information, you must report this anomaly to the financial institutions. Cancel all debit and credit cards, and change passwords as well.
Change all passwords
If you have been a victim of doxxing, you should change each piece of information whether it is leaked or not. The accounts should be bolstered by two-factor authentication.