Doxing and Steps to Protect Yourself from Doxing
The term "doxing" is derived from the word "document tracing" which means to retrieve documents about a particular person or company in order to learn more about them. Doxing simply refers to the process of gathering or deducing other people's information such as name, age, email, address, telephone number, photographs etc. using publicly available sources such as the Internet. In other words, doxing is the act of using the Internet to search for personal details about a person.
The term is hacker-speak for documenting. As a rule, the data gathered is sensitive information that the target doesn't want broadly known, for any of a number of reasons including customer privacy, compliance requirements and reputation management. The information may be gathered from publicly-available sources, through social engineering or through a hacking exploit.
Doxing is sometimes used for a type of extortion in which an attacker accesses the target's sensitive data and threatens to make it public unless demands usually for money are met. Malware known as dox-ware or extortion-ware is often used to facilitate the exploit. Doxing is also sometimes used for legitimate purposes, such as aiding law enforcement. Other motives include cyber-bullying, industrial espionage and harassment, as well as the gray area of social and political activism.
Today, Internet has grown to such a size that it contains almost all information about you. All you've to do is use the right techniques to search for what you want. Here is a list of doxing techniques that are most commonly used by Internet geeks and ethical hackers -
1. Google - Google is undoubtedly a powerful tool that plays a key role in doxing. Since Google indexes almost anything on the Internet.
2. Social Network - As most Internet users are found to be active on social media, social network such as Facebook and LinkedIn provide a virtual goldmine of information necessary to perform doxing.
3. Whois Searches - If a person or company has a website associated with them, you can easily perform a "whois search" for their website to obtain personal details such as full name, address, email and phone number.
4. Reverse Cell Phone Lookup - A Reverse Cell Phone Lookup is simply a process of finding someone's personal details such as name, age, address and related information by using their cell phone number and vice versa.
Protecting Yourself Against Doxing
So what can you do to best protect yourself against doxing attempts? First, here are some of the most commonly targeted pieces of information that can be freely gleaned from the Internet and used to identify you -
- Full name
- Birthday, and age
- Email addresses
- IP addresses
- Social network profiles
- Websites and blogs
It is always a good practice to keep the above information hidden. Even though it is not possible to do this in all cases, you can still take care to protect as much information as you can from going public. You can consider the following additional tips for further protection:
- Do not upload personal photographs on web albums.
- It is a wise choice to make all the Internet profiles private.
- Maximize the privacy settings of your social network profiles. Make sure that your individual albums and photographs have their privacy settings configured.
- Do not use the same email address for all you accounts.
- Don't Make Enemies, The people who are most likely to dox you in a malicious way are those who have something against you.