One of the worst things that anyone could ever go through is uncovering private information related to them online. To be doxed is no less than a nightmare, and it indeed takes a lot of discretion, mental balance, and maturity to handle such a fuming situation with a cool head!
The term "doxing" or "doxxing" is shorthand for "dropping dox" and refers to a sort of cyberattack in which private information is shared on the internet. The information can range from your phone number to email address, social network, and even residential address.
The New York University study reports that 90 percent of dox files reveal the victim's address, 61 percent uncovers the phone number, and 53 percent indicate the email address.
The presented data indicates that doxing can pose a significant threat to your security and mental well-being. Therefore, this article offers you a comprehensive guide about what to do if you ever realize:
"I've been doxxed".
What To Do If You Have Been Doxed
"Have I Been Doxed?" – What Counts In Doxing
If you have ever worried about having your personal information on the internet and have been wondering "how to know if you've been doxed", then here are some points for you to recognize when it's happening:
- Full name & Date of birth
- Social security number
- Workplace details
- Residential address
- Bank account details
- Personal photos
- Social media accounts & Family connections
- Embarrassing personal details
- Criminal history
If any of the mentioned information about you is floating around on the internet without your consent, you have been a victim of cybercrime.
What You Should Know If You've Been Doxed?
If people find themselves caught up in the uneasy world of doxing, then most of the time, they either enter into a state of piercing panic or a complete brain freeze. But that's the very first thing you must avoid in such situations. Pull yourself together and follow the three mentioned points to alleviate the problem.
1. Record everything
Screenshots and crucial information like URLs will be your most potent weapon in legal actions. You must ensure that you save every critical information, such as the date and the URL.
Take screenshots of your online activity if you can, and save URLs of all pertinent resources. This will help you fight against the issue in the future and protect your private information.
2. Make your safety — your PRIORITY
Once you know your safety is compromised, report the situation to someone you trust. Share your concerns with family, friends, and partners. Tell them the conditions you need to feel safe. They'll be able to provide emotional support, help you stay safe, and plan your next steps.
3. Know that it is not your fault
Although it is an incredibly overwhelming and vulnerable situation, you must understand that it isn't your fault. Try keeping a calm and clear head and know that you will make it out of here! It will benefit you greatly in the end.
What To Do If You've Been Doxed (The First Hour)
1. Get yourself a safe place
Think about where you are right now. Is it safe to stay here? If not, what should you do to ensure your safety? If you are in an unsafe situation, don't hesitate to call 911 (or your local emergency number) and say what's happening.
Send messages to all your trusted contacts through encrypted chats and let them know what's going on. Inform them that you've been doxed and don't want anyone else getting their hands on your sensitive data. Ask them to alert you if they encounter anything suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary while browsing the Internet or using social media.
2. Tame your panic and try to calm down
The fear of being doxxed is real. When you realize – "I got doxed", the mind freezes, and body shudders. Try to take a few deep breaths and do not let your fear come in your way to combat the situation. This will help you remain calm so that you can make wise decisions and handle tough situations effectively.
3. Report Doxing and block the Doxer
Reporting Doxing on social media platforms is a step in the right direction! It is not enough to just report Doxing. You must also report the doxer’s social media accounts for violations and block their profiles. If something happens to you or someone you know, report doxing immediately.
Tip: When reporting a doxing, it's best to screenshot the doxing and personal information so that if the dox is deleted, you still have proof that the individual was responsible.
4. Consider reaching local law enforcement
Sometimes doxing is done for fun or for bragging rights, but many times it's done so that other bad guys have access to your personal information and use them for their own profit.
If you think your situation is abnormal and harmful (such as physical threat or financial harm), or you don't know what to do, you should consider contacting your local law enforcement and speaking with the police to protect your rights. You can also ask a friend or family member to go with you, but make sure you bring a copy of the report with the case number.
5. Lockdown your account
Since some of your private information has been circulated online, you should turn a sensitive eye to all your social media accounts.
Yes! It's time to change your password, put on multi-factor authentication and make sure to have a robust security system for your online accounts. Moreover, keep a close check on your social media handles.
6. Protect your financial accounts
Your bank account and credit card numbers can be used for identity theft. Therefore, when the dox file contains your credit card and bank account details, you should take no time to report it to your financial institution and block your card.
What To Do If You've Been Doxed (In The Next Three Hours)
1. Document the details
Documenting (with screenshots, log files, and any other relevant materials) everything can prove helpful in future legal action.
2. Keep track of what's happening online
You can keep track of what's happening online and the current status of revealed information by setting up Google alerts for your name or taking the help of a keyword.
How To Avoid Being The Victim of Doxing: Precautionary Measures
With so much online information, becoming a victim of doxing isn't something far-fetched. However, you can lower the probability of being doxed using the following precautions:
1. Secure your IP address with a VPN
A virtual private network secures your IP address by encrypting your internet traffic and sending it through service servers and helps you browse online anonymously.
2. Good cybersecurity
Anti-viruses and malware software can help you create a robust security system for your computer. Update your anti-virus software regularly to avoid hackers or scammers from getting access to your private information.
3. Set a strong password
A strong password is an innovative combo of digits, uppercase and lowercase alphabets, and diverse symbols. Moreover, try using a different password for a different account.
4. Keep separate email accounts
The best way to manage security is to create separate email accounts for public and private use. The general email account handles, professional emails, and a personal email account establishes contacts with friends, family, and personal connections. Also, avoid using too much personal information (for example, birth date) in your email ID.
5. Use multi-factor identification
Multi-factor identification means you or anybody needs to go through at least two identification phases to log in to your account. It eventually guards your system against hackers by shielding your profiles with your passwords and phone numbers.
6. Ask Google to remove information
If your information appears in Google search results, you can ask the search engine to remove it with the help of a form.
7. Beware of online quizzes and app permissions
Online quizzes can be a disguise through which you unknowingly deliver important information online, therefore, making you more vulnerable to getting doxed. Moreover, always be cautious about mobile apps asking for personal data access.
8. Set up Google alerts
Set a Google alert for your full name, mobile number, residential address, and other information if you suspect that you have been doxed.
9. Avoid disclosing too much
Always be prudent about uploading information publicly on social media sites. Avoid mentioning private details like phone numbers and bank account details in emails too frequently because hackers can intercept them.
10. Say goodbye to obsolete profiles
If you sit and check the sites where you have set your accounts, some of them definitely will be obsolete. Try deleting such profiles as soon as possible.
11. Beware of phishing emails
Usually, the hackers send phishing emails to trick you into telling them your social security number, bank account details, or passwords. Therefore beware of such emails.
12. Use separate usernames for different platforms
If you use multiple social sites and platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Discord, try using different usernames for each platform. Otherwise, using the same username enables the person to trace your comments on various sites and gain more access to you and your life this way.
Being doxed can be an intensely horrific situation. However, it would help if you remembered that you would tackle it eventually. All you need to do is maintain mental and emotional balance, keep a cool head and follow the steps mentioned in this article!
We hope this article helps you in your tough times and encourages you to take appropriate precautions to avoid being doxed.