What is Doxxing?

Doxxing, derived from ‘dropping documents’, publicizes personal information about an individual, often with the intent to harm. Learn what tactics attackers use and how you can protect yourself.

Defining Doxxing

Doxxing, short for ‘dropping documents’, is a form of online harassment where individuals publish private or identifying information about an individual without their consent. This can include home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and more sensitive data such as Social Security numbers. The intent is often malicious, with the goal of shaming, intimidating, discrediting or physically harming the targeted individual.

The Tactics of Doxxing

Doxxing can take different forms such as

  • Invading personal spaces: Attackers may break into personal accounts, steal physical mail or even trash.
  • Mining online activity: An individual’s social media activity, posts in public forums, and comments on blogs are all fertile ground for doxxer.
  • Social Engineering: People often unknowingly give up information during conversations or interactions.

Whatever the tactic, the end result is a grave invasion of personal privacy.

Notable Incidents of Doxxing

One of the most glaring examples of doxxing was during the 2014 Gamergate controversy, where several female game developers and critics of the gaming culture were doxxed. Their personal details were published online, leading to scandalous debates and threats. Another infamous case was of CNN reporter, Andrew Kaczynski, who was doxxed by users on Reddit in response to his story about the creator of an anti-CNN meme.

Precautions Against Doxxing

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to doxxing. Some recommendations include:

  • Limit the amount of personal information online.
  • Use privacy settings on social media.
  • Regularly Google your name to see what information is easily accessible.
  • Use two-factor authentication for online accounts.

Being cyber aware will go a long way in protecting yourself against this form of harassment.

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