Doxing, also known as 'dropping documents', is the term use to describe when a person's private information, identity, or personal details are intentionally exposed without their consent.
Additionally, doxing involves and encourages like-minded people to use the confidential information they've received to apply private data in some potentially damaging situations. Because of the popularity and high use of the internet for almost everything now, personal information is at an all-time high. An individual's personal details can be found through public records, research or illegal access to private computer systems and databases. Though it can be similar to defamation, doxing is generally accurate information released about a person.
Doxing can make a person feel
Threatened or exposed
Intimidated or controlled
Publicly embarrassed or humiliated
Discriminated against depending on the information released
Cyberbullied or cyberstalked
Additionally, doxing can lead to
Financial and identity fraud
Damage of professional or personal reputations
Increased anxiety or mental instability
Reduction in self-confidence and self-esteem
What's the best way to protect yourself from doxing? Some ideas include
Ensuring your privacy settings are secure and you are aware of what information and content you're sharing
Each of your online accounts should have a different password and ensure the answers to your security questions aren't too easy to answer.
It can also be beneficial to use different usernames for websites if they allow it.
If two-factor authentication is an option for when signing in, this allows for a much stronger sign-in process.
Limit as much personal information you can when sharing online as this makes it challenging to dox someone.
Regularly search yourself in both standard and private internet browsers. This allows you to see what information is available for others to view.
What can you do if you've been doxed, or you think you may have been doxed?
Collect and preserve all evidence that you can find. This can be through shared content, screenshots, or information that you have found. The eSafety Commissioner has some great information on how to collect evidence safely.
Report the content to all necessary social media platforms and use the block function so you're unable to be seen.
Get advice from the relevant State or Territory Police, legal services, and counselling support. Find counselling support links and information here.
If what you've read has caused some concerns or worries and you'd like some support, you can call Lifeline on 13 14 11 at any time. They are available 24/7. Headspace also provides counselling and support in many forms for individuals up to the age of 25. If you're in immediate risk or someone you know is, call 000 to speak to emergency services.
eSafety Commissioner. (2020). Doxing trends and challenges. https://www.esafety.gov.au/about-us/tech-trends-and-challenges/doxing
Gebel. M. (2020). What is Doxxing? Here's what you need to know, including how to protect your personal information. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-doxxing-2020-11