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How can you find out who is doxing you?

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Cybertrace Team

October 13, 2023 · 8 min read

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Imagine the following scenario: you suddenly start receiving threatening messages or phone calls from people who know who you are. Even worse, strangers start showing up at your home or workplace, asking about your family. Without warning, you might receive disgusting items in the mail or unsolicited pictures on your phone from a hacker, blackmailer, or someone with a grudge. Before long, family, friends, or colleagues will call you to say that your personal details are all on the internet. You ask yourself, what on earth is happening here? The answer: someone has doxed you. While this is a huge shock, the good news is you don’t have to take this lying down. You can fight back and get justice, as long as you know who did it. But what is doxing? And how can you find out who is doxing you? Read on to see how Cybertrace can help track down the perpetrators and contact us today.

What is doxing?

Doxing, or the intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information, or personal details without their consent, is a terrifying ordeal for anyone. Originating in the hacker community of the 1990s, the term derives from the phrase “dropping dox” (documents). As such, it marked an escalation of feuds between anonymous hackers who sought to expose each other’s identity. In 2011, the hacker collective ‘Anonymous’ popularised the term when it revealed the identities of alleged KKK members. Mass doxing events have arguably been less noble since; see Gamergate (2014), Cecil the Lion, and Ashley Maddison (both 2015). Today, it’s become a popular means of targeting celebrities, politicians, or strangers on the internet. Furthermore, it has also become part of the culture wars, where ideologues seek to punish, humiliate, or intimidate opponents. Regardless, its effects are distressing, and you are desperate to find out who is doxing you, and why.

What are the effects of doxing?

It bears repeating: doxing is devastating and can have severe consequences. In previous instances, it has cost victims their jobs, health, well-being, and even their lives. If someone’s physical address, phone number, or workplace location are out there, they can become an easy target. We know heated rhetoric can turn political opponents into enemies and that some people take matters into their own hands. All of this makes for a potentially toxic brew. But even in less severe cases, doxing can significantly affect victims’ mental health and feelings of safety. And it is surprisingly widespread! Studies show that almost a quarter of US Americans have experienced doxing and more than 1-in-4 victims personally know the perpetrator. Most significantly, though, victims don’t trust the authorities to be able to help them. That’s because they often struggle to find out who is doxing you. Luckily, Cybertrace can help by investigating who’s responsible.

find-out-who-is-doxing-you, How can you find out who is doxing you, doxing

Why do some people dox others?

Studies have shown a range of motivations for doxing, including extortion, silencing, retribution, controlling, reputation-building, unintentional, and the rare goody: doxing in the public interest (for example, to expose corruption or scams). Further research shows that targets include celebrities, politicians, activists, journalists, company executives with progressive positions as well as everyday people. Unsurprisingly, the same researchers found that women were more likely to be targeted than men. Furthermore, gendered doxing is more likely to be sexualised, such as including the release of intimate images or videos. In any case, the decision to dox is entirely in the hands of the offender. Even more reason to find out who is doxing you.

How does doxing work?

While doxing was once the sole domain of hackers, the proliferation of online engagement means it’s become easier than ever. If you think about it, we do most things online these days. At a minimum, we communicate, date, shop, bank, interact with governments, express ourselves, and participate in communities online. All of the platforms we use hold various bits of our identity – some anonymously, some with our name attached. In and of themselves, they feel safe enough, especially if we can control who has access. But put them all together and release them for all to see, and we suddenly feel very naked and afraid. Suddenly, you want nothing more than to find out who is doxing you and make them stop!

At its most basic, offenders scour the internet for personal information, aggregate it, and then publish it. Perpetrators might stalk individuals on social media, track usernames across multiple accounts, employ phishing scams, or access data broker sites. Additionally, they might retrieve birth certificates, marriage licenses, or other government records. Finally, they benefit from illegal data leaks, such as the recent Optus and Medibank security breaches. Thus, they get your medical history, credit card/passport details, or emails. Once they’ve gathered enough, perpetrators dump all this data on dedicated forums or the dark web. Now, it’s simply out there and anyone can access it – people with a grudge or criminals who steal identities to commit crimes. But how do you find out who is doxing you, and is it even illegal?

find-out-who-is-doxing-you, How can you find out who is doxing you, doxing, hacker

Yes and no – the answer to this question is a little complicated. On the face of it, doxing is usually legal if it involves publicly available records and information. Some may even consider it a form of vigilante justice if it exposes bullies, hypocrites, or corrupt officials. However, even in those cases the danger of a mob mentality can not only destroy reputations but cause irreparable harm. And all of that without due process and the perpetrator alone determining who or what warrants doxing. All the more reasons to find out who is doxing you and make them stop.

Because doxing outside of underground hacker communities is a fairly recent phenomenon, governments and laws are still playing catch-up. Recognising the threat posed by doxing and hackers, many jurisdictions have started passing specific anti-doxing laws. For, Hong Kong passed an anti-doxing law in 2021, with the US state of Kentucky following suit the same year. In jurisdictions like Australia, there is no specific law against doxing, however, it is illegal to stalk, harass, or cyberbully. In fact, law enforcement often considers doxing a form of those illegal practices, which are punishable. So there is a way to take action and get justice – if you know who is behind it. But how do you find out who is doxing you? And what can you do to prevent it from happening in the first place?

Hacker

What can you do to prevent others from doxing you?

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from doxing attacks and hackers in general. First and most importantly, protect your online privacy and limit the amount of personal information you share online. That means setting all your social media accounts to private, choosing strong passwords and two-factor authentication, and avoiding third-party logins. In addition, remove home or work addresses, and don’t link photos of your face or family to your online accounts. Secondly, deploy pseudonyms for online discussions (especially political ones) and consider using separate usernames and email addresses for different platforms. Finally, use a VPN (virtual private network) to prevent IP address grabbers, data leaks, and internal bad actors. Some people even dox themselves to see what information is out there and then request the removal of their personal information online from different websites. If it’s too late, though, how can you find out who is doxing you?

What to do if you have been doxed?

If the unthinkable happens and someone has doxed you, it’s important to move quickly as the data may have come from a hacker. Firstly, document, but don’t delete, the evidence through screenshots that include the date and URL. Secondly, lock down all your accounts by setting up strong new passwords and multi-factor authentication. Thirdly, contact your bank to protect your accounts and cancel your credit cards. Next, report what’s happened to your social media platforms and, if a threat is present, the police. Finally, change your phone number, protect your remaining data online, and ask family/friends for support. Some folks also set up Google alerts with your name or any keyword, so that you’re alerted to what’s happening. All of this damage control is important, but it doesn’t get you justice. What about going after the bastards who did this? For that, you need to find out who is doxing you. But how do you go about that?

Hacker

How can Cybertrace help find out who is doxing you?

Luckily, our professional investigators have all the tools at their disposal to examine who is behind a dox. As industry leaders, Cybertrace can track down a range of malicious individuals (including hackers) responsible for harassing, intimidating, or humiliating victims online. Our meticulous and rigorous premium investigative products enable you to act. Importantly, our reports provide the ammunition needed to take on these crooks. Depending on the investigation, they might confirm the exact identity and/or IP address of the perpetrator. Even when that is not possible, in almost all cases our meticulous reports provide actionable intelligence to take to the police or your lawyer. Our clients have used these successfully to initiate police investigations, confront perpetrators, or present as evidence in court cases. Whatever path of action you decide to go down, our doxing investigations give you the vital first step: premium intelligence. Contact us today to find out who is doxing you.

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