THE INTERNET POSTING OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
This is Part 1 of a two part series on the subject of “Doxxing”. In this first part we will define Doxxing, discuss how it is being used, and review the risks and threats Doxxing represents. In Part 2 we will talk about what can be done to protect yourself from Doxxing.
Doxxing is loosely defined as an Internet based practice of researching and broadcasting personally identifiable information (such as names, addresses, phone numbers, spouse, children, relatives, financial history, and much more) about an individual. The practice of doxxing is not new. It actually dates back to the 1990s and was often used for constructive purposes such as helping law enforcement locate suspects and /or dangerous criminals, in business analysis, and the legitimate vetting of individuals. Doxxing, however, strays into a very dark area when it is used for other purposes.
DOXXING AS USED BY ONLINE VIGILANTES
There are countless modern examples of doxxing that millions of Americans read about every day, often without realizing that doxxing is at the heart of what they are reading. In the last two years, the Social Security number of First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyonce’s home address, Aston Kutcher’s personal phone number, and the credit report of Los Angeles PD chief Charlie Beck were all posted online following acts of doxxing. While these events were troubling enough to the individuals involved, the more recent use of doxxing has taken an even darker turn.
Following recent events in Fersuson, the group called Anonymous acquired the sensitive personal information of Colonel Ronald Replogle, posted it on the Internet, and then Tweeted the location of this information to thousands of people.
Literally anyone can follow the provided link to acquire a home address, phone number, email address and much more. These kinds of acts essentially put the individual involved and his/her family at immediate risk.
Erica Garner, one of the daughters of Eric Garner who was killed in a chokehold event by a New York City police officer, tweeted out the address of one of the officers present at the time (Justin D’Amico). Her Tweet linked to a web page with addresses for D’Amico and for “five” possible relatives. Erica Garner has more than 5,000 Twitter followers and her post was retweeted about 500 times.
Following the fatal shooting of a homeless man on Skid Row in Los Angeles in early March, LAPD confirmed that at least two police officers were the victims of doxxing. An unknown individual or group posted the officers’ names, addresses, and details about their kids’ schools on the Internet.
THE RISKS AND THREATS OF DOXXING
Doxxing is a new kind of threat and one that can manifest itself in many dimensions and extend the risk beyond the individual involved to include family members and relatives.
The bigger problem here, of course, is the ready availability of sensitive personal information on the Internet to feed the practice of doxxing. More than 50 entities, loosely defined as data brokers, have compiled comprehensive information profiles about most of us. This information is then made easily available for anyone to acquire on the Internet. These sources feed the practice of doxxing and can lead to many different types of assault including the following – which do not need to be life threatening to be debilitating
- Physical Stalking
- Cyber Stalking
- Identity Theft
- Vigilante “Justice”, etc.
This is a serious issue with many having been victimized already. So, what can we do about this at both individual and organizational levels? The only practical solution is to remove your personal information from these sites. But, that task is easier said than done. More on that subject in Part 2.
For more information in the interim, please visit https://www.manageurid.com