Doxxing is a form of cyberattack that uncovers the true identity of an internet user. This involves the attacker revealing the victim's details and subjecting them to malicious attacks. Doxxing typically involves identifying and harassing a person by analyzing information posted by the victim online. This article will discuss the various ways people have been doxxed on Twitter and how you can prevent getting doxxed on Twitter.
What is Doxxing?
Derived from the expression "dropping box," doxing was first used as a revenge strategy used by hackers. They dropped incriminating content or information about an opponent.
These days, doxing is used to expose and punish internet users who prefer to be anonymous due to their unpopular and controversial opinions.
Due to the amount of personal information we share online, cybercriminals tend to pick up on the trail of clues as to who we are. With these clues, they can uncover our real identity and then embark on malicious attacks targeted at us. This type of attack is known as Doxxing, and it is responsible for ruining lives.
Origin of Doxxing
Although doxing is quite common today, it wasn't always this way. The first recorded case of doxing occurred in the 1990s. According to Wired.com, doxing attacks were launched against a U.K office working to improve race relations. In this attack, the internet was not used. However, activists against the U.K office's progress published an officials phone number in public toilets in London. This led to angry and prank midnight calls and proved that doxing could be done offline and online.
However, early recordings of social-media-based doxing attacks refer to a 2006 Youtube channel called Vigilantes. They specialized in doxing vloggers who were thought to be hateful or racist. Today, doxxing is primarily done on social media, and Twitter has recorded a few attacks.
How Doxxing Works On Twitter
It can be effortless for doxxers to uncover information on you as a Twitter user. Struggling with harassment for over a decade, Twitter has mostly depended on automated systems and algorithms to check harassment of all kinds. However, these algorithms are not 100% effective in checking abuse on its platform. Twitter usually acts when called out by the media or when popular personalities are involved.
In October 2020, when actor Rose McGowan doxxed someone by publicly tweeting their phone number, Twitter was swift in placing restrictions on her account until the tweet, which had violated Twitter's terms of service, was deleted. However, when Buzzfeed News conducted an analysis of thousands of tweets in the same time frame, as well as thousands more a week after, it was discovered that Twitter was not consistent in enforcing its doxing bans.
In another incident, in March 2015, a former baseball player, Curt Schilling, took revenge on a group of people who had posted offensive comments about his daughter. Through a private investigation, Curt uncovered the real identities of the people behind the troll Twitter accounts and doxxed them by posting their real identities online.
The consequences of Curt's actions led to the suspension of one of the bullies from his community college, another bully being sacked from his job, and other bullies whose identities were not published posted apologies out of fear. Curt had used doxxing for online vigilante justice.
It can be very easy to uncover your real identity or other personal information on Twitter. It is best to take a series of steps to protect your privacy. Doxxing can go either way, and people get doxxed for as little as sharing their opinions.
Steps To Avoid Getting Doxed on Twitter
Although there is no absolute way to prevent doxing, there are steps you can take to ensure you reduce your risk of vulnerability. The primary step is to be careful of everything you post on Twitter or other social media platforms; here is a list of strategies to prevent you from getting doxed;
1. Do not overshare
Oversharing on social media, message boards, and online forums has been the quickest way for doxxers to get the private information they need. It is important to be conservative with what you share to avoid giving your attackers any form of leverage. Where possible, it is best to avoid providing this personal information, as doxxers can use it.
2. Adjust your privacy settings
Another way to increase your vulnerability is to give the public access to your posts. One crucial step is to make your posts on Twitter and other social platforms private so that only people you know can have access to them.
3. Use a VPN
Suppose you'd like to keep your information private from doxxers. In that case, you might want to consider signing up on Twitter and other social media platforms with a virtual private network (VPN). Your actual IP address is hidden from doxxers when you connect to a VPN before logging in to your social media accounts. This ensures that hackers will not uncover your true location or other information.
4. Vary your Usernames on different social media platforms
If you own different social media accounts, then it might be better to vary your usernames on these platforms. If you use one username on Twitter, you should use a different and distinct username on Facebook and another on Instagram. This will make it difficult for doxxers to trail and track you through your other social media accounts.
5. Look out for phishing emails.
One common strategy used by doxxers is phishing. Phishing is a social engineering attack used by hackers to steal your personal information like login credentials, home address, or even credit card details. Usually, attackers masquerade as a trusted entity to convince you to open an email or instant message. Through this message or email, you are then tricked into clicking a malicious link, further disclosing your personal information.
6. Have Strong Passwords
You can lessen your chances of getting doxed by keeping strong passwords. Protect your personal information by using strong passwords on credit card portals, work dashboard, and online bank account. Strong passwords can do more than keep your Twitter account from spies; they can prevent hackers from changing personal information or posting messages through your account. An ideal strong password should contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
7. Use multiple email addresses.
You can increase your privacy and reduce your chances of getting doxed by using different email accounts for various types of correspondence. For example, you can use one email account for signing up on Twitter and other social media platforms.
You can use another email account for your professional correspondence. You can communicate with your co-workers and network with industry colleagues with this email address.
And finally, you can have another email account for private communications with your friends and family. It would be best if you try to keep this email within your circle of friends and family.
Doxxing did not start with the advent of social media. Still, there is no denying that its activities and attacks have been enhanced by social media platforms, including Twitter.
Fortunately, Twitter affords you the freedom to express yourself. However, it also provides the same freedom to access your information. To prevent identity theft, profiling, or doxxing, you’re better off being cautious of your interactions on Twitter.