Doxxing: What it is and How to Protect Yourself From It
You wouldn’t send your personal information to strangers, would you? Can you imagine how you’d feel if thousands of people all over the world suddenly knew where you lived and strangers started to turn up at your house? Now consider there’s someone out there giving your information to people, but that personal information is also being accompanied with false claims about you. Before you know it, you’re getting death threats through the post. Your inbox is being bombarded with malware attacks and your mobile phone won’t stop ringing. This is the new reality for the victims of Doxx attacks.
What is Doxxing and Why Do People Do It?
Doxxing is a personal information attack that involves somebody posting your personal information online, usually with malicious intent. The end result is ultimately to cause as much humiliation for the victim as possible and in some cases, even cause them physical harm which can result in death. As the internet mob gathers, it can easily ruin lives and attacks can quickly get out of hand.
Victims of doxxing attacks have been known to unfairly lose their jobs, their families, their homes, and sometimes even their lives. Doxxing attacks have now escalated to something that’s known as SWATTING. This is where a false claim is made against a victim and a SWAT team is called to raid their house under the assumption that a terrorist or overly dangerous individual could be living there. Just look at the case of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was killed by a SWAT team after a prankster told the authorities that Finch was holding hostages in his home. When he opened the door to the police, he was shot dead on his doorstep. All of this because someone was angry at Finch for beating him online on the video game Call of Duty.
Doxxing attacks can happen for a number of reasons. Often, it’s simply a vicious prank. Sometimes, it could be a criminal carrying out revenge against someone like a journalist or a police officer. People who are most in the public eye are often the most likely to become victims of doxxing attacks, but anyone can become a victim, regardless of whether you’ve ever upset anyone or not.
How To Protect Yourself Against Doxxing
Be Careful With What You Post Online
It’s easy to slip up and accidentally post revealing information online. If you can’t wait to show the world what’s just arrived for you in the post, at least wait long enough to take it out of the packaging so your address can’t be seen. If you’re the type of person that regularly shares screenshots from your phone or computer, make sure the final image doesn’t contain any personal information that could give away your address or your phone number.
Make sure your accounts are private if you can. If you’re someone that has a high number of followers or friends on your social media accounts, be aware that if someone really wants to find out your personal information, they’re going to do everything they can to get it. Don’t make it easier for them. You should also exercise caution with your posts in forums and other chat boards, especially trading websites. It’s common to buy and sell things online through smaller websites, but make sure any information that reveals your address is only sent in a private message. Never share that, or your phone number, in public.
Keep Software Regularly Updated
Developers update their software to make sure it can protect against the latest threats. If you’re using applications that haven’t been updated in years, they could be vulnerable. Older operating systems, in particular, won’t be protected against the latest viruses and malware. Installing software updates is a crucial part of keeping your information safe, as the latest patches often address the vulnerabilities in prior releases. Next time you see the option to update pop-up, don’t ignore it or put it off for another day – get it done.
Use Different Passwords
Using the same password across every one of your accounts is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to protecting your online security. If you’ve got a good memory, you should try and operate from as many different email addresses and passwords as possible. For temporary sign-ups on websites you’re not going to use that often, you should always consider using a burner email address that can be disposed of once you’re done with the site.
Manage Application Permissions
This is for all of the Google Chrome users out there. Yes, we know there are lots of extensions out there that can be useful. We use a lot of them too, but be wary about smaller, third party extensions that you need to grant permissions too, especially anything that integrates with your social media platforms. If you install something that’s asking for permission to post on your behalf and see what your friends are doing, that should be an instant red flag. Is the extension really that important that you’d be willing to compromise your own safety for using it?
Use a VPN to Mask Your IP
Connecting to a VPN encrypts your online data and hides your IP address, making it impossible for not just your ISP to find out who you are, but also anyone else trying to intercept your connection. It stops people who are trying to find out more revealing information about you from doing so and it goes without saying that if you’re connecting your devices to a public network, you should always be using a VPN to protect against the threat of evil twin attacks.
Best VPNs For Protecting Your IP
NordVPN promises complete privacy when you’re using the internet. Your traffic will be encrypted with the same next-generation security standard used by the NSA and with over 5500+ servers in 59 countries, you’ll never struggle to find a server to connect to.
With a strict no-logging policy, military-grade encryption, and a variety of VPN protocols, CyberGhost has been designed to provide the highest levels of protection for your online communications. You’ve got guaranteed safety and you’ll be able to remain anonymous online across all of your devices thanks to the ability to connect up to seven devices to the VPN simultaneously.
How Dangerous Is Doxxing?
As the number of internet users increases, doxxing will only become more of a threat in the future. You should always be wary of what you’re posting online and remember that, despite the kindness of strangers online, there are a lot of evil people out there too who simply get their kicks from messing with people.