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Doxxing Is Illegal, Here Is How To Protect Yourself From It?

What Is Doxxing, Is It Illegal, and How Do You Protect Yourself From It?

Doxxing is Illegal and it is becoming more and more widespread. But, exactly what is doxxing, and how can you defend yourself from it?

We believe our personal lives to be our own, and we only allow those we trust inside them. It’s why home break-ins are so painful, even if nothing important is taken; it seems like a violation.

Some people are motivated by malice to find your information and distribute it online as a kind of violation.

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Doxxing is a disturbing behavior that has become so common as a form of digital assault that it now has a name.

It’s a particular issue on social media sites, particularly public ones. Some users target people whose opinions they disagree with, or for something as basic as their gender, ethnicity, or heritage.

So, what does it mean to get doxxed, how did it become so common, and is there anything you can do to avoid it?

What Does It Mean When Someone Is Doxed?

In general, we consider our home to be a secure environment. It’s one of the few places where we may express ourselves completely without fear of being criticized. It’s also quite personal and intimate. That’s why we keep details like our address private. It’s the same issue at work and in our social lives.

We cherish privacy by nature, and we approach social situations differently as a result. For example, how you speak and conduct around coworkers is likely to differ from how you interact with friends.

We compartmentalize our life into sections based on our trustworthiness.
We only reveal our home address, complete name, workplace, and other personally identifiable information when we are at ease.

However, the situation is different online. We don’t share personal information online in general, but we do display ourselves for others to see.

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We are often more public in our ideas, thoughts, and interests than we are in the physical world, whether

it’s on our LinkedIn profile for professional reasons, Instagram for lifestyle sharing, or Twitter for voicing our opinions.

While this helps you connect with individuals who share your interests, it also means that you are visible

to everyone, not just those you trust.

Some internet users believe that harassing, shaming, or harming those with whom they disagree is acceptable.

Because it is impossible to cause physical harm online, they turn to something that can be more

detrimental in the long run: fear and humiliation.

What Is Doxxing?

The attackers use a variety of approaches, including Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), searching

publically available databases, analyzing social media postings and profiles, hacking, and social engineering, to harvest personally-identifying information.

They’ll post it openly online once they have it, hoping that their supporters or following would harass you.

This could be an attempt to oust you from your position, get you fired, inflict shame, or, in the worst-case scenario, injure you physically.

Doxxing is the practice of exposing such information. The name dox is derived from the acronym for documents. The act of invading someone’s privacy in this way became known as doxing, though the double-x variant, doxxing, is now more popular.

It was first used in the early hacker environment when the majority of users were anonymous. Hackers might dox other users in retaliation for perceived slights or unpopular ideas, exposing their genuine identities to police enforcement.

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The tactics utilized haven’t changed much over time, but the frequency and severity of the attacks have.

The hacking community was well aware of the positions they were putting themselves in and the hazards that came with them.

If you’re not sure what doxxing is, Ana Dascalescu of Heimlan Security authored an article in which she shared anecdotes of doxxing victims as well as examples and techniques for how doxxing is done nowadays.

Not that the technique is justified, but they may at least be prepared for the worst. The most notable difference now is that doxxing is frequently directed at ordinary users, those without protection, and for a variety of reasons, many of which are insignificant.

Similarly, people in positions of authority or who are associated with vaccines, politics, abortions, or other contentious issues are frequently the targets of doxxing attacks.

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Women and non-white users, who are regularly doxxed for misogynistic and racist causes, are in the same boat.

This has the added impact of pulling already marginalized communities away from social networks and public venues, preventing constructive relationships from being formed.

Doxxers can also overwhelm their victim by using malicious social media bots. Each doxxing incident is an attempt to instill fear and harm in the target.

However, these focused strikes have a greater impact when taken together.

Doxxing efforts aimed at institutions or people with certain opinions or characteristics are an attempt to stifle debate and curtail freedom of expression.

Instead of fostering productive discourse, people in charge of the dox will prefer to suppress the opposing side in order to conceal a point of view on a given problem; this has happened on issues as diverse as the US elections, the COVID-19 epidemic, and even the Ukraine war.

Is Doxxing Really Illegal?

Unfortunately, doxxing is not a crime in and of itself. It is illegal to hack into someone’s computer or personal device without their permission, whether or not the information is accessed and shared.

These offenses may be prosecuted in state or federal courts. Doxxing is no longer prohibited because it is primarily carried out through OSINT, or publicly available data.

Regardless of whether or not being doxxed is considered a violation of privacy by a court, the concept and tactics are new enough for politicians and courts to keep up with new legislation to protect people.

Similarly, not all government officials and legislators perceive it as a unique issue, because journalists and activists employ doxxing to combat hate speech and identify trolls.

There’s another important reason why, despite the harm it does, doxxing is not prohibited. Because each doxxing must be decided on a case-by-case basis, it is difficult to define in law without being overly broad.

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Personal motivations for doxxing, damage to the victim, the victim’s relationship with the perpetrator, how the material was shared, the goal of doxxing, and other considerations must all be considered independently by the court.

There’s a fine line to be struck between legislation that’s broad enough to cover all doxxing incidents but not so broad as to have unforeseen repercussions.

That is not to imply that legislation cannot be enacted. Despite this, there is currently no legal recourse for doxxing due to the effects of time, lack of political interest, and problems in characterizing the problem. Even if you’ve been the victim of doxxing, you should disclose it to the authorities.

Even though doxxing is not criminal in and of itself, it can contribute to other crimes such as harassment, stalking, or fraud if the information is used to commit other crimes.

It’s likely that, despite the fact that you won’t be prosecuted for doxxing, you’ll have other legal choices.

The case could be resolved based on how the culprit obtained the information and how they exploited it, according to law authorities.

How To Protect Yourself from Doxxing Attacks

While we’d like to believe that the vast majority of people are kind, there are others who act deliberately. Before the internet, someone had to know your identity in order to target you.

However, we are now easily found on the internet. The more people who can see your profiles, hobbies, and beliefs, the more likely it is that someone with malicious intent will find you online.

But don’t worry, there are a number of things you can do to avoid being doxxed, including the following:

As previously stated, the primary goal of most doxxing attacks is to instill fear and quiet. While it’s understandable to be unsure or even terrified of the future, many people believe that you shouldn’t have to be afraid of being yourself online. Finding a balance between expressing yourself and safeguarding your privacy is critical.

To begin, think about whether the topics you wish to discuss could be considered contentious. If that’s the case, consider how you feel about the risk of identifying with those issues.

You may believe that standing out for your ideals is vital, but you also value your safety and privacy. As a result, it may be worthwhile to create separate identities, profiles, or email addresses for discussing such topics.

Anonymity is unquestionably a problem on the internet because it allows people to be rude without fear of repercussions.

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However, anonymity is an important aspect of the internet. In our real lives, we have expectations, cultural pressures, and reputations to uphold.

Pseudonymous accounts allow us to communicate sentiments, thoughts, and opinions that we might not want to associate with our real-life character.

It’s critical to update your privacy settings on your accounts and social networks once you’ve selected how you want to display yourself online.

You should also use strong, unique passwords for each service and consider storing them securely with a password manager.

Similarly, consider what you give away about yourself when you post something online.

Taking a photo on your street, for example, reveals where you reside. There are a lot of things you shouldn’t put on the internet.

Keeping Yourself Safe Online

Unfortunately, doxxing is not always preventable due to its nature. Someone who is determined to violate your privacy may be able to obtain enough information to cause you harm.

However, there are things you may take to make the process more difficult for them.
The good news is that these privacy-protecting measures will benefit you in the long run and will help protect your data in the event of a data breach.

Switching from a free email provider like Gmail or Outlook to a secure, encrypted option like ProtonMail or Tutanota is one of the most significant adjustments you can make.

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David Maxwell

I am a tech lover, with experience in Front End Web Development, love writing articles about tech, science, and research.

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