Protect Yourself from “Doxxing”
and other forms of online harassment
What is Doxxing?
Doxxing refers to the collection of a user’s private information, across multiple platforms (including social media) by an unauthorized individual, who then publishes the information in an attempt to shame or embarrass the user. Doxxing may be conducted by researching public databases, hacking, or through social engineering. The term “doxxing” is derived from the phrase “dropping dox (documents)”.
Doxxing often involves hackers attempting to embarrass or shame individuals by publishing confidential information, images or videos obtained from their personal accounts. Initially, doxxing was used by hackers to “out” the identities of fellow bad actors/hackers. However, more recently, it has been used to attack users with opposing viewpoints or extort money out of individuals to keep the information from being published.
How can I protect myself from doxxing?
- Adjust your social media settings:
- Ensure that your profiles, usernames/handles are kept private
- Remove any addresses, places of work, and specific locations from your accounts
- Set your posts to “friends only”
- Avoid discussing personal information that could be used against you, as well as anything that can identify your address, workplace or contact information
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- If you must use public wi-fi, turn off the public network sharing functionality on your device
- Use strong passwords
- Vary usernames and passwords across platforms
- Hide domain registration information from WHOIS (a database of all registered domain names on the web)
- Request removal of your information from public directories
Guidance for UCI reporting of doxxing-related privacy incidents:
If you believe that a doxxing incident is the result of an unauthorized use or breach of UCI data, please notify the UCI privacy office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the doxxing results in the publication of your home address and the doxxer or others have threatened you with harm, please notify your local law enforcement agency. You can reach the UCI Police Department by calling (949) 824-5223 or call 911 for emergencies.