The World Wide Web is an amazing invention that has changed our lives forever. Being able to communicate with people all around the world, post thoughts, opinions, and reactions online without fear and without revealing your personal information is quite extraordinary. But this benefit can be exploited by other people. Especially since there is a vast quantity of information available for free for anyone who has the time, motivation, and interest to put together clues and take away that privacy.
We leave our footprints all over the Internet. And if there happens to be someone who is eager enough to collect all that info and share it publicly, you are likely to become a victim of doxing.
What is Doxing?
The word “doxing”, or “doxxing”, originated out of “documents”, or "dropping docs", eventually shortened simply to "dox". Doxing refers to the practice of searching, sharing, and publicizing the personal information of people on the Web on a website, forum, or other publicly accessible venue.
Doxing involves information about you that already exists somewhere on the Internet and can be dug out one way or another. The essence is putting it all together, piece by piece, and making it easily accessible to anyone. Motives for doxing is always to humiliate, cause public embarrassment or harm reputation, either personal or professional.
This could include full names, home addresses, work addresses, phone numbers (both personal and professional), relatives, usernames, everything they’ve posted online (even things that were once thought private) – anything from embarrassing photos to political viewpoints.
An example of doxing:
Do you remember Cecil the Lion? A dentist from Minnesota illegally hunted and killed a lion living in a protected preserve in Zimbabwe. Some of his personal information was released online. This resulted in even more identifying information was publicly posted online by people who took offence about his actions and wanted to punish him.
How can you protect yourself from doxing?
Does it all sound like an episode of Black Mirror? Here is how you protect yourself!
1. Google yourself
Check what information about you is available online. Search engines are likely the first place cyberbullies go to collect info for doxing. Why don’t you be one step ahead and do the same to see what the Internet has on you – simply run a search on Google. Once you know what is out there and what info on you is available- try to take off as much as possible!
2. Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication
For a serious hacker, break into your online accounts is a walk in the park. That’s why you should protect your accounts by using two-factor authentication whenever there’s an option to do so. Even if they manage to crack your password, there will be a curve ball at the next authentication step.
3. Choose a secure password
If you haven’t changed your passwords for a while or, or God forbid, you’re using the same password for all your online accounts, then there is no time to waste! Choose a secure password for each online account you are signed up to.
4. Check your privacy settings on your social media
Sharing a lot of personal details on social networks, both intentionally and accidentally, is something people tend to do. However, to avoid potential threat of doxing, the less information you post online the safer you are.
For example, your Facebook profile is a goldmine for doxers, keep in mind who can actually access your info. Make your profile, photos and status updates visible to friends only. Also remember to scroll through your ‘friends list’ on regular basis to remove those you don’t keep in contact with anymore.
5. Use ChillGlobal Virtual Private Network
ChillGlobal VPN is an intelligent system that hides the IP address of the device where it is installed. In short: When using a VPN on your computer, it appears you connect to the Internet elsewhere than where you really are. No snoopers can access your private information. With ChillGlobal you are secure even on public Wi-Fi networks.
There are also other important features. For example, a VPN encrypts your connection and thus prevents others from accessing the data you upload. With a VPN service, no one can find out what you do online or steal your passwords or credit card details. It gives you that extra and cuts the way for hackers that might try to dox your private data.