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What Is Doxxing? And How To Protect Yourself

Søren Lassen Jensen
By: Søren Lassen Jensen Cyber Security | 9 February

Protecting your online privacy and personal information on the internet has never been more important. A threat looms large across the internet— doxxing. This blog post aims to explain what doxxing is , how it works, the different types of doxxing, and most importantly, how you and your employees can defend your organisation against being doxxed 

What is Doxxing and what does it mean?

Doxxing is derived from "docs" (documents), which refers to finding peoples personal information or documents and then publishing them online without their consent. This information can include home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social media profiles, financial details, and more. Doxxing is often carried out with the intent to harass, intimidate, embarrass, or incite harm against the victim. 

Doxxing can range from being something relatively unharmful as being signed up to a pizza place’s newsletter to something dangerous like harrasment of family, employer, cyberbullying, swatting or even identity theft. 

How Does Doxxing Work?

Doxxing usually happens to high profile targets, such as celebrities, poilicians, influencers on various social media platforms or other high profile targets. But it can also happen to you and your employees. Doxxing usually starts with an online argument of sorts before escalating to a person starting to dig up information about. The internet is not as anonymous as you might think.  

Doxxing typically involves the following steps: 

  • Gathering Information: The malicious actor scours the internet, social media platforms, public records, and other sources to collect personal data about the target. 
  • Compiling Data: Once sufficient information is obtained, the maliciours actor collets all the data in a document containing the victim's sensitive details. 
  • Publication: The malicious actor then publicly shares all this personal information on social media, forums, or other online platforms, exposing the victim's personal information to a potentially wide audience. 

Being doxxed can lead to your personal information being leaked online such as: 

  • Phone number 
  • Personal photos 
  • Embarrasing personal details 
  • Bank account information 
  • Work information 
  • Home address 

Being doxxed can damage your employees reputation and can even lead to repurcussions for your organisation and lead to cyberbullying and even real life harrasment.

How to protect yourself against doxxing

One of the best things you can do to protect both your employees and your organisation against doxxing is to encourage your employees to limit personal information online and to stay private. Here’s some conrete steps you can take to protect your employees against doxxing. 

  • Raise awareness about doxxing: Educate your employees about the dangers of doxxing, which involves the malicious exposure and sharing of personal information online. Explain how cybercriminals can use this information for harassment, identity theft, or other malicious purposes. 
  • Limit Personal Information: Emphasize the importance of safeguarding personal information online. Teach your colleagues to be mindful of the information they share online and instruct them to consider restricting access to sensitive details, such as your home address and phone number. 
  • Review Privacy Settings: Encourage your colleagues to regularly review and update their privacy settings on social media platforms and other online accounts to control who can access your information. 
  • Use Pseudonyms: Encourage using pseudonyms or alternate identities when engaging in online activities on forums or other social media sites like reddit in order to minimize the risk of being targeted. 
  • Protect and hide your IP address: consider hiding you IP adress by using a VPN. This blocks people from seeing you online acttivity, whish is especially a good idea if you’re on public Wi-fi. 
  • Practice good cyber hygiene: Promote good cybersecurity hygiene practices, such as using strong and unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and being wary. Provide guidance such as training on how to recognize and report suspicious online behavior or attempts to gather personal information. 
  • Establish Reporting Procedures: Establish clear procedures for employees to report incidents of doxxing or any suspicious activity related to the exposure of personal information. Ensure that your employees feel comfortable reporting such incidents to the IT department or designated cybersecurity personnel for prompt investigation and response. 

By educating your employees about the risks of doxxing and empowering them to protect their personal information online, Iyou can help mitigate the potential impact of this cybersecurity threat on both individuals and the organization as a whole.

What to do if you get doxxed

If you or one of your colleagues are in the unfortunate situation of being doxxed, it's crucial to take immediate steps to mitigate the potential harm and protect yourself. Here's what you can do if you've been doxxed: 

  • Stay Calm: While being doxxed can be distressing and alarming, it's essential to remain calm and composed to effectively address the situation. 
  • Document Evidence: Take screenshots or make notes of the doxxing incident, including where and how your personal information was disclosed, as well as any associated threats or harassment. 
  • Contact Authorities: Report the incident to relevant authorities, such as law enforcement or cybercrime units, especially if you believe your safety or security is at risk. Provide them with the evidence you've gathered. 
  • Alert Platform Providers: If the doxxing occurred on social media platforms, forums, or other online platforms, report the content and request its removal. Most platforms have policies against doxxing and will take action to address it. 
  • Secure Your Accounts: Change your passwords and review your account settings on all online platforms to ensure they are secure. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible to add an extra layer of security. 
  • Notify Your Contacts: Inform friends, family members, and colleagues about the doxxing incident so they can be awaref or any potential harassment or fraudulent activity targeting them. 
  • Update Privacy Settings: Review and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms and other online accounts to limit the visibility of your personal information to strangers. 
  • Consider Legal Action: Depending on the severity of the doxxing incident and applicable laws in your jurisdiction, you may consider seeking legal advice or pursuing legal action against the perpetrator for privacy violations or harassment. 
  • Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or support organizations for emotional support and guidance. Dealing with the aftermath of being doxxed can be emotionally challenging, and it's essential to prioritize your well-being. 
  • Monitor Your Identity: Regularly monitor your financial accounts, credit reports, and online presence for any signs of identity theft, fraud, or further harassment. Consider using identity monitoring services for added protection. 

Remember, being doxxed is a violation of your privacy and personal safety, but you're not alone. By taking proactive steps to address the situation and seeking support from trusted sources, you can navigate through the challenges and protect yourself from further harm.

Create awareness of Doxxing

The danger of doxxing highlights the need for both personal awareness and organizational readiness against online threats. It's essential for everyone in the organisation to understand the risks of sharing personal information online and take steps to protect themselves. By promoting awareness and providing guidance, you can empower your team to stay safe online and minimize the risk of falling victim to doxxing attacks.