The internet is like an ocean, but instead of the water, it contains lots of information and data. The information and data are as a result of what people share online or what is hosted by a certain server somewhere. Some of this information is very sensitive, and a leak can cause a lot of damages to associated entities; individuals or organizations. Personal information on the internet is a vulnerability that can be exploited and be used by stalkers or even used in doxing attacks.
What’s doxing and online stalking?
In this digital age, doxing refers to the practice of searching, collecting and publicly posting personally identifiable information (PII) on the internet. It’s usually done without one’s consent, and with malicious intent, sometimes it can be used for noble gains. The latter is rare. Online stalking also referred to as cyberstalking is the practice that relies on the internet to monitor or track someone without consent. Cyberstalking can be used to compile comprehensive information about someone, and it can be apart of doxing.
When combined, the results of both doxing and online stalking can be devastating. This is because an individual can experience real-time and online harassment, falsely accusations, and also defamation. They can also lead to blackmail, identity theft, solicitation for sex and even vandalism of properties. While cyberstalking is a criminal offense, the law isn’t clear about doxing.
How is doxing done?
Since doxing involves searching and collecting of information, any method that can yield these goals can be used. Whether it’s for malicious or noble intents, doxing can include the use of many tools such as reverse cell phone lookup and even IP logging. We’ll look at some common ways in which doxing is done;
- Analyzing social media
Both stalkers and anyone interested in doxing starts with social media sites and online forums. You can be amazed at how much information one can collect from Facebook alone. For instance, you can get a person’s full name, address, phone number, email, link to other social sites and even information about a person’s friends and family. This alone is enough to enable you to build a profile on an individual. Heading over to other sites and forums, you can deduce what a person does, i.e., job, hobbies, activities and a lot more. You can also get more information from google by just typing full names of an individual.
- Cyber attacks
This is an advanced method that yields specific sensitive information about an individual. This method requires some knowledge and may take advantage of the ignorance of the target individual as far as cybersecurity is concerned. Cybercriminals interested in doxing a target individual may use methods such as man-in-the-middle attacks. This technique is viable when the target individual connects to an unsecured WIFI. Usually, other means such as real-time stalking and monitoring are used to track the individual. Once connected, the attacker can intercept data about what the target is doing online. This data can be further analyzed to reveal usernames and passwords. Attackers may also spoof the network and steal sensitive information. Other cyber techniques including IP logging, digital spying, password attacks and even phishing.
Preventing doxing and online stalking
The only sure way one can avoid doxing and online stalking is by ensuring digital privacy and online security. How do you do this?
- Avoid oversharing in social media
Always limit what you share on social media sites and forums. This includes limiting the audience that can see what you share. Also, avoid posting sensitive information or ethically questionable pictures that can ruin your profession or career. You can also change the privacy scope of some information; it’s advisable to set confidential information to private. You can even use a nickname at times.
- Use a VPN when surfing
A virtual private network ensures your IP address is masked, and hence your privacy will be intact. A VPN also provides security through encryptions. This means even if your information is intercepted, it will be useless to the attacker