The term “Doxxing” is derived from the words “document tracing” which indicates a gathering of personal & confidential information of a particular individual or an organization and publishing them on public sources. In the age of the digital world, Doxxing is often referred to as social engineering (collecting someone’s data via public records).
What Is Doxxing?
Doxxing is the act of fetching someone’s personal information and then posting them online. In the past, these activities were mostly performed by cybercriminals and comparatively rare as something that the average individual should not worry about a lot. However, in recent years, the Doxxing attack has become a big deal, since it opens the doors to both ID Theft & Harassment. Your opinions spoken publicly can be manipulated to ruin your personal & professional life.
In addition to this, the Doxxing victim can be exposed to Swatting, an act of getting the police to show up at your door. You can skip to the section what is swatting? to know briefly about the practice!
Dangers of Doxxing
Well, Doxxing invokes some serious intimidation, harassment, and personal/professional threats against victims that may interfere in their working or place them in real danger. Doxxing is a targeted attack and depending on the level of violence and disruption, the victim could be forced to change their bank account details, contact information, and so on. Lately, Reddit experienced a controversy besides a moderator who was doxxed!
What Information Are Doxxers Looking For?
When a doxing attack occurs, cybercriminals might publish the following information:
- Real name
- Contact number
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Residential Address
- National Registration Identity Card Number
- Credit card numbers
- Personal pictures, videos, documents, etc.
- Details related to Social Media Profiles
- Anything else that may be used to identify a person or their relations
What Consequences You May Face Due to Doxxing?
- Anonymous identities getting exposed online.
- You may face prank calling.
- Public shaming and humiliation.
- You may have to delete your social media accounts.
- Your personal & professional reputation can be spoiled.
- You may face cyberbullying & social media backlash.
- Loss of a job.
- You may have to deal with legal prosecution.
- Identity theft & other cyberattacks
Well on the brighter side, there are some legitimate reasons for doxing, it includes risk analysis, aid in law enforcement investigations, etc. But the majority of the time, Doxxing is mostly used to extort, shame, or enact vigilante justice.
How Does Doxxing Work?
So, how do people get doxxed actually? Well to initiate the Doxxing attack the hacker collects personal details of a person or an organization (it mostly includes easy to fetch information like Name, Email, Contact Number). They further implement advanced hacking techniques to gather hard-to-get data such as Social Security Number, Credit Card Numbers & other confidential data.
Common Techniques Include In Doxxing Attack Are:
- Packet Sniffing
It is a popular hacking method where hackers intercept your Internet data to gather valuable information such as Names, Emails, Passwords, and more. In Packet Sniffing, the cybercriminal connects to a network, breaks the security walls, and intercepts all the data exchanging throughout the network.
- Analyze File Metadata
You must already be aware of the fact that metadata stores a lot of information than you can realize. For example, Photo Metadata can reveal things like where it is captured, the location where the photo was taken, camera model, associated settings, and more. If a hacker gets access to the information, then they can certainly know a lot about you.
DID YOU KNOW?
It was all because of the photo’s metadata that revealed the exact location of John McAfee who was once hiding to dodge a murder controversy.
- IP Logging
IP Logging is another scary trick that Doxxers use to initiate the attack. In this method, hackers attach a code in an email that is invisible to the victim. As soon as the targeted person opens the mail, the code starts tracking the user’s IP Address and sends it to the IP Logger. As soon as the attacker has the IP Address, it can execute further techniques to gather more information about users.
- Reverse Cellphone Lookup
What happens if hackers have access to your contact numbers? Well, there are plenty of things, all credit goes to services like Whitepages. In this method, you just need to type in a cell phone number and one can get a lot of details about the specific person who owns the number. You will be surprised to know the number of details, one can get using a reverse phone lookup technique.
- Social Media Stalking
Several bad guys prefer to scrub their target’s social media accounts to locate and gather personal information. Once the attackers get access to this data, they can use them for their good.
DID YOU KNOW?
According to the 2021 survey, here’s a set of private information that Teen Social Media Users post on their profile & can be easily retrieved by hackers:
- 92% of users post their Real Name
- 91% of users publish their photographs
- 84% of users post about their real interests
- 82% of users set the correct birth date
- 62% of users post their relationship status
- 53% of users set their correct email address
- 20% of users post their correct contact details
What Is Swatting?
The most concerning damage of Doxxing is “Swatting”. It means making fake bomb threats or reporting other serious incidents in the name of someone else’s stolen identity, which eventually leads to police showing up at the victim’s house.
An example of Swatting: In December 2017, a swatting attack occurred which led to the death of Andre Finch from Kansas. According to the entire scenario, individuals named “Finch and Barris were playing an online game and during the match, another player under the name Miruhcle, who escalated the conflict between the two. Somehow, the unknown player accessed Finch’s address and dared Barris to commit Swatting. Barris made calls to the police and reported fake bomb threats under the address of Finch. The entire Doxxing & Swatting tragedy took a major turn and when police arrived at Finch’s house, he was immediately shot dead.”
How to Avoid Getting Doxxed: 10 Essential Tips (2021 Edition)
Undoubtedly, getting Doxxed can be a traumatized experience. But there are certain measures you can implement to prevent the leaking of personal data and protect your data.
1. Use a VPN
You should consider hiding your IP Address by using a dedicated VPN Service or a Proxy. Both the tools help users to safeguard your IP Address while you surf the Internet or connect to a Public Wi-Fi. We recommend using Systweak VPN for staying anonymous while browsing the Internet. Here are some of the major benefits of using this reputable VPN Service for Windows 10.
DID YOU KNOW?
30 Countries out of 196 have chosen to ban using VPN services. These are the countries that prefer to maintain authoritarian law to have complete control over what citizens do online.
2. Change Passwords Regularly.
Using strong, encrypted passwords are critical to maintaining top-notch security. Make sure you change your credentials every month using a Password Manager that will assist you in creating complex passwords, which are certainly harder to break.
|MUST-CONSIDER: TweakPass: An Ultimate Password Manager|
3. Hide domain registration information from WHOIS.
Do you own an Internet domain name? If so, then the information is stored in a dedicated database known as WHOIS. And the major downside of this database is that it is available Publicly. You can see a variety of information related to the person who registered the website, contact details, and more.
4. Sign up for Google Advanced Protection.
Well, if you are a politician, activist, or journalist, you may have to take additional steps to safeguard yourself. Consider using a private browser like TOR, or sign-up for the Google Advanced Protection service. It will help you to completely lock down your data. But for such an advantage, you need to pay a fee!
5. Remove yourself from data broker websites.
There are plenty of websites that work similarly to Yellow Pages. These data broker sites mine the Internet to gather all kinds of information and compile them in one place. This includes name, contact details, residential address, photographs, and more. You can check websites like www.peoplefinder.com or www.whitepages.com to scour your data. You can also consider using data wiping tools like DeleteMe to clean up information automatically!
6. Create a separate, “throwaway” email.
While accessing different websites, it is recommended to use a throwaway email. It comes as an effective hack to make an account on platforms that need just an email address for registration. Alternatively, Throwaway emails are the best bet to avoid spam and other unwanted notifications.
7. Wipe Out Your Post History.
Staying careful about what you say online is not sufficient, you need to take a look at all the personal and private stuff you’ve shared earlier in the past. Go through each of your accounts and make a list of places where you have overshared. Delete them one by one to wipe all the confidential things!
8. Use Pseudonyms.
If you are someone who uses multiple websites for use, we suggest you keep different names for each platform. Most of the Doxxing attempts involve gathering information from multiple sources & ultimately it would become a difficult process for hackers to match accounts and consolidate one individual’s data in a single place.
9. Protect your information with Advanced Identity Protector.
Using a reliable ID Theft Protection Service is certainly the best bet to detect hidden identity traces and put them in a Secure Vault to safeguard all the private data in an organized format. The application allows you to protect a variety of data such as credentials, email accounts, and more from intruders.
10. Tips for Maintaining Social Privacy.
You can easily secure all your accounts, by following the tactics mentioned below:
- Limit posts you publish on social media.
- Do not post all the activities you share.
- Avoid accepting friend requests from unknown people.
- Ask your friends & relatives to remove pictures and other private information related to you.
|IMPORTANT READ: 9 Ways To Erase Your Digital Footprint From The Internet!|
Wondering what you should do with the information you find about yourself online? Well, if you live in the European Union, you can certainly demand that your private data should be erased immediately from the platform, all thanks to GDPR Rules!
- Everything You Need To Know About GDPR
- The Impact of GDPR On a Global Level!
- How GDPR is a True Challenge for Your Business?
- GDPR Turns Two: Is It A Success Or A Failure?
What To Do If I’ve Been Doxxed?
Follow the tactics mentioned below to limit the damage to recover if you’ve been doxed:
- Report the attack on the platform(s) where your details are published.
- Contact your local police department in case the attacker threatens
- Keep a document of all the information that has been posted. This will further help Law Enforcement and other institutions to investigate the case of Doxxing.
- Immediately connect with your financial agency if you see that your bank account details or credit card numbers have been posted somewhere in public.
- Make sure you configure the privacy settings of all your social media platforms to ensure that snoopers and doxxers are away!
Hope you found our today’s guide useful and helped you to explore more about What is Doxxing? What are the potential dangers & effective tips you can apply to prevent a Doxxing attack! If you have any concerns or feedback, do mention them in the comments section below!