The best way to prevent doxing is to pre-empt it. While you may not think that you are ever likely to become a victim of doxing, controlling the amount of your personal information that ends up online for people to find is always good practice in maintaining your online safety and security. This means that you should always be aware of the private information you are sharing and refrain from publicly providing information such as your address, personal phone numbers or email address.
When interacting online it can feel easier to trust people with information you wouldn’t normally share with them if you were in an offline environment. Although most people are aware of the risks associated with sharing personal information online – there are still people that make a mistake and temporarily feel comfortable enough to share more personal information than they had intended to. Be mindful that if we share personal information or images with people online, they will have access to that information forever. Online blackmail with the threat of doxing has become very common – with the perpetrator forcing the victim to do certain things such as a sexually orientated video or money transfers.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to ensure you are fully aware of the risks associated with sharing information with other people, making sure you can completely trust the person you will be giving personal information to and only sharing personal data if it’s absolutely necessary.
Below there are some questions you could ask yourself before giving away personal information to assist you in making a clear judgment on whether by doing so, you could be at risk.
Have you ever posted personal information about yourself? No? What about the pictures and statuses that give away your location or location services?
If you have concerns about security then it would be a good idea to go through all of your social media profiles and review your security settings to prevent your information becoming publicly available. Things like your phone number and friends list can commonly be abused by doxers if you are targeted. Think back to old usernames or abandoned social media profiles you no longer use – search them in Google and delete things that you wouldn’t want there now.
Third party information sellers are top culprits for helping get your information out to doxers. Websites and services such as Whitepages, Spokeo and 192.com all make money from selling your personal information to anyone who searches their databases. You don’t have to agree or opt-in to have your information featured, but you can usually request for your information to be removed.
Whois information is what you use when purchasing a web domain name. If you own any website domains then at some point you will likely have had to enter your personal information. Once your information has been released in this way it is very hard to remove, as it can be traced through the Whois history services – even if you change the listing. To prevent having to list your address and phone number online, you could use a mailing address or online phone number alternative such as Google Voice, or consider purchasing a privacy package when you sign up to your domain provider. These are usually only a small fee per year and mean you don’t have to give out your name, address or phone number.