How to defend against cyber stalkers and cyber doxing?
Almost all of us have been there before – browsing through the social media profile of your boyfriend or girlfriend back in high school, and finding out that he or she is already married to someone else; lurking around the blog of your current boyfriend’s ex, and finding out that she is still pining after your boyfriend; and even looking through a stranger’s online account profiles just because that stranger left a comment on a video you were watching.
Anyone can easily be stalkers and browse through another person’s online accounts and retrieve private information about that person. A simple search using a person’s name can turn up so many results about that person. Think about all the information you placed in your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, and other social media accounts. For sure, tons of personal information that we did not even bother to hide are piled up, just waiting for someone to unearth it.
Online stalking has become quite common, regardless of age or gender. As said, anyone can do it – at least those who knows how to use the internet. For most people, this could be just harmless stalking, just checking out how someone from the past is doing, or what is the deal with a person you just met online. But there are people who take the supposedly harmless online stalking to another, more threatening, level such as doxing.
So what is doxing? Doxing is a term coined after the abbreviation of documents which should be docs, but in this age of internet memes and texting shortcuts, docs has become dox, just as where has become wer, and you has become u.
Doxing is online stalking, but taken to a very different level by publishing or disseminating the information of a person or an organization to the public. The reasons for doing this vary. Some people do it for legal and valid reasons such as to help corporations in their business analysis, and to help the police look for a criminal. On the other hand, there are those who dox for unethical and even illegal reasons such as harassment, shaming, and extortion.
Doxing has been employed by hackers ever since the 1990s, even against individuals and organizations who hide behind anonymity. Come to think of it, anonymity is one of the attractive features of the internet. You can hide behind a pseudonym while watching your favourite video channel or posting your opinions in forums. These days, even those who are not hackers can easily break through this shield of anonymity. But there is a way to keep your anonymity. Before that though, you should know if doxing is legal or not.
Is Doxing Illegal?
The question of the legality of doxing has been prevalent ever since it became known. The short answer is that doxing is not illegal in and by itself, but it is highly unethical. Although the act of doxing is not illegal, the consequences of such action could result to legal consequences. For example, if your ex-wife has a restraining order against you, but you keep on stalking and harassing her online, then you are already violating a law and therefore could face a string of legal problems.
Another example is when someone has gathered your personal and private information and is threatening to expose these unless you pay them a certain amount of money, then you can sue that person for extortion.
The legal complications a person can face for the act of doxing depends on the intent of the person and also the type of personal information they obtained and published. If the intent is to let other people know where to find you and how to contact you so that you are harmed and harassed in the process, then that is already a crime. There are also types of information about you that are not publicly available, but were obtained through hacking or other illegal means. This is an invasion of privacy, and you can charge the person for that crime.
Of course, you should not wait before these problems caused by doxing can happen to you. These problems are not only legal in nature, but they can also result in emotional and mental stress for you. Therefore, you should know how you can defend yourself against online stalkers and doxing. The following are just a few methods that you can employ.
In order to prevent anyone from doxing your personal information, the first line of defence is to simply prevent anyone from being able to stalk you online. If they can’t find you on the web, then they can’t get your personal information, which means that there is nothing about you that can be published and used to threaten or shame you. Anonymity should be the key, but this has become so fragile in this advanced world, with hackers and even tech-savvy individuals becoming more and more aggressive and resourceful.
The most effective way to strengthen your anonymity and make sure that no one – not even seasoned hackers – can break it, is to hide behind a proxy or a virtual private network. When you get VPN service, you are ensured with internet protection, thereby making it difficult and even impossible for online stalkers to find you.
Being anonymous in the world wide web is a very strong defence against stalkers, especially when you are under the hood of a private internet access. When using a VPN network, your online activities are heavily encrypted. Even your internet service provider will not know what you are accessing online, thereby shielding your personal information.
In the light of these doxing and online stalking issues, it is then wise to be aware of what you are placing in any online portal, forum, or account. You can try searching for your own name online, and you will be surprised at the wealth of personal information that will turn up. Make sure to delete any personal information that you know you can’t entrust to the public. Your home address, the names of your parents, your birthday, your contact numbers, and your business email address are just a few private information that anyone can obtain just by searching for your name online.
A number of these personal data can be used to harass you or to steal your identity, which will ultimately result to legal complications. Thus, it pays to be aware and to be conscious of what you are posting online.
Make use of privacy settings
The old adage, “Choose your friend’s,” can still be applied when it comes to our social media accounts such as Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Twitter, and the likes. Your social media accounts are rich sources of personal information that can be used against you. Therefore, make sure that you know who your friends are. Do not add to your friends list just about anyone who sends you a request.
Also, make sure that you are taking advantage of the privacy settings of most social media platforms. Set your profile so that only your friends can see what you’re sharing online. You can even restrict the audience of your posts to certain individuals only if you know how to make use of the privacy settings of your accounts.
Have multiple identities
Multiple personalities on the web is not a cause for concern, but is actually a form of protection against online stalkers and doxing. You have to use different usernames, different email addresses, and different passwords for your video games, your business-related activities, and your financial transactions.
You may see this method as strenuous and tiring, but the payoff of using multiple identities is advantageous . For instance, when you use the same email address and password when paying bills online and when posting comments on your favourite video channel, then chances are your financial transactions can easily be tracked. Therefore, make sure to use separate accounts for each of your online activities.
There are many places in the world wide web where people can get your sensitive and personal information. Stalkers may lurk in your social media profiles, blog posts, comments on forums, and other accounts. When these stalkers decide to expose your personal data in order to get something from you, or to harass you or to steal your identity, that is already doxing, which could lead to legal complications, not to mention emotional and mental anguish.
There are several ways to defend yourself against doxing such as being aware of the information you post online, choosing your friends, making use of privacy settings, and having multiple identities for each of your online activities. However, the very first line of defense – and the most effective –is by getting internet protection by using a proxy or a vpn. This way, you will be anonymous and not prone to stalking and doxing.
Your privacy and all your personal information should not be invaded, so you should be able to protect yourself against doxing and online stalkers.