What Is Doxxing? [Everything You Need to Know in 2021]

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The Internet is a very useful, although scary, place. While many use it for beneficial reasons, some people use it to attack another individual. In this article, we’ll discuss what is Doxxing, how it works, and how to prevent it. By the end of this article, you will feel more confident about this subject than ever!

What Is Doxxing?

Doxxing is a form of cyberbullying where a person reveals the personal information of another internet user. These personal details can include someone’s name, address, phone number, and even Social Security Number (SSN). People usually engage in Doxxing to seek revenge on another person.

Doxxing is short for ‘dropping docs’. Doxxing arose in the 1990s as people were not so open about their personal lives on the internet. Nowadays, people post their lives on social media, and the focus has shifted to more revealing personal information like financial details or a home address.

What Does Swatting Mean?

If Doxxing wasn’t scary enough, people also use swatting as a revenge tactic to intimidate or punish other individuals. It involves calling emergency law enforcement on someone falsely. The terms Doxxing and swatting are often brought up together because both aim to harass an individual, but Doxxing involves just leaking information, whereas swatting involves calling law enforcement.

DID YOU KNOW? In a recent case of swatting, an online gamer was shot dead by law enforcement under false pretenses. The person who called the swatting was arrested.

How Doxxing Works

Not to worry you even more, but you have less control over your information than you think. There are many ways hackers can access your information on the internet; here are some of the most popular:

Background Check Sites

There are background check sites (like Whitepages) that provide easy access to your information if it’s not secured. Anyone can search for your name or phone number to steal your information.

Packet Sniffing

This is mainly done by expert hackers who break data security codes and intercept your data usage. Doing so can give them personal financial details like credit card numbers or bank details.

Phishing

Phishing is one of the biggest Doxxing examples. Hackers can access your information by sending you a personalized email that looks like it is from a trusted party. Once you give access to them, they can hack into your personal details.

IP Logging

Hackers can determine your exact location by tracking your IP addresses. Revealing identifying information like this is certainly scary and can easily harm an individual.

Social Media

For many of us, social media is an amazing way to remain connected with friends and share our lives. However, it provides easy access to hackers to determine your location, workplace, likes and dislikes, and even your passwords.

DID YOU KNOW? Changing your passwords frequently can prevent you from being doxxed. Using complicated passwords also helps!

Why Would Someone Dox You?

Now that we have talked about the definition of Doxxing and the ways people can access your information, let us explain why someone might want to dox you.

Generally, hackers can dox you for any reason. It may be, for instance, because you posted an offending statement or controversial opinions. Many people have also been doxxed because they beat someone in an online game, leading to feelings of anger or frustration.

One popular case of Doxxing was to a biomedical engineer at the University of Arkansas. He was accused of taking part in a neo-nazi rally, and so his information was leaked. Soon enough, his inbox was filled with hate messages and he was publically shamed. After all, was said and done, he was able to prove that he wasn’t involved in the rally in the first place.

Others like him are not so lucky. Once Doxxed, there is little control left over the situation. The main aim of this malicious act is to humiliate you and your loved ones publically.

DID YOU KNOW? Most cases of Doxxing are done for personal reasons. It’s not limited to famous people; it’s actually more frequent among the general population.

Key Takeaways

Doxxing is a type of cyberbullying. It involves leaking someone’s personal information for the purpose of online vigilantism, revenge, or prank-calling.
People can access your personal information through social media, background check sites, or by tracking your IP address.
People can dox you for various reasons, such as posting controversial opinions on dark message board sites, beating them in an online game, or because of something personal.
Incidents of everyday Doxxing have increased due to the availability of information on the internet. Many also fall victim to phishing.

How to Prevent Doxxing

Anyone can fall victim to Doxxing. Hackers present a negative image of a Doxxed person, even if they are otherwise good. It is important to be aware of and protect your identity before this happens to you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Use a VPN

A VPN, or a virtual private network, protects your identity by securing your IP address. It ensures that hackers are not able to access your location, so it’s important that you only use the highest-quality VPN to protect yourself.

Ask to Be Removed From Background Checks and Similar Sites

You have the right to decide which websites have your information. You can remove your personal information from the internet and sites like Whitepages. Although the process can be simple, some websites that profit off your data can make it more complicated.

Don’t Use Personal Emails for Forums or Chat Rooms

If you are a part of any forums or message boards, our advice is not to use your personal email for it. Personal emails usually have your real name, and that is enough for the hackers to trace you. Moreover, posting your opinions publicly can attract attention from such hackers.

Don’t Log in to Social Media via Google

Many of us have connected our social media accounts to Google. Although it seems like a common and secure practice, it actually provides essential information to hackers. By tracing your social media and Google account, they can discover personal details. This is another easy way how to not get doxxed.

Hide Your WHOIS Information

WHOIS contains contact information about the domain owner. Although it is mostly used for positive purposes, hackers can use it negatively. It is advised that you hide your WHOIS information.

Know Your Rights

Remember that you have the right to your information and how it is being used on the Internet. You can decide which websites or apps have access to your data.

Abstain From Taking Online Quizzes

We know it is tempting to find out what kind of ice cream flavor you are, but these websites collect your information. By answering random questions, hackers can create a blueprint of your identity and even determine your passwords.

DID YOU KNOW? You can also install various anti-virus or malware protection software to prevent Doxxing. They can also protect your computer from other kinds of threats.

Is Doxxing Illegal?

Technically, Doxxing is not illegal. If the information obtained by the hackers was posted using legal methods, it is not illegal. In addition, it’s legal to post if the information was publically available and all the hackers did was share it.

Financial information, on the other hand, is usually obtained using illegal means, making sharing is against the law. In addition, phishing or identity theft are also considered illegal for the same reason.

You should receive advice from a legal expert or look for identity theft protection companies if you’ve been doxxed. They will guide you through the situation as best they can since the legalities of Doxxing are still unclear as a new concept.

Is Pulling IPs Illegal?

No. Again, although it may seem like a violation of privacy, it is not illegal. Anyone can access other users’ IP addresses. However, it becomes illegal if it is done for illegal purposes like phishing.

DID YOU KNOW? Even though Doxxing may technically be legal, governments in different countries are continuously establishing new laws to prevent it.

Conclusion

Doxxing is a form of cyberbullying aimed to humiliate or intimidate another person. It involves leaking personal information like posting screenshots or leaked photos. Hackers can gather information from social media or through background check sites. You can prevent this by using a VPN or hiding your WHOIS information. Despite its negative use, Doxxing is not illegal in many cases.

FAQ

Is doxxing illegal in California?

Yes, Doxxing is illegal in California. The state has laws against cyberbullying not only for adults but also for children. Violating these laws can either lead to a fine or jail.

What can someone do with your IP?

Hackers can find out your local address through an IP address. They can also hack into your phone, and many also use it for identity theft.

How do people get doxxed?

Understanding what is Doxxing is easy. Easily put, it is the act of revealing someone’s personal information to the public. It usually happens when someone gets your personal information from public sources.

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