Parents: Here’s What You Need To Know About Doxing

cyberbullying digital safety digital well-being Jun 05, 2024
Parents: Here’s What You Need To Know About Doxing

By: Madina Ansary, Seasonal Public Relations Intern | Digital4Good


In this age of technology, finding someone’s information is as easy as tying your shoe. Unfortunately, this immediate access to personal information can endanger children and teens’ privacy and safety. The most common attack used by cyberbullies is known as doxing.


In this article, we’ll explore what doxing is, how it works, and how to safeguard your children against a doxing attack.


What Is Doxing? 

Doxing is a form of cyberbullying in which the perpetrator uses sensitive information to blackmail, harass, hurt, and exploit other individuals. The term was coined in the 1990s, when hackers would reveal others’ real identities online. 


Doxing occurs for a variety of reasons, from an active desire to harm someone to a mild disagreement over differences in opinion. Anyone whose information is available online can be doxed — including adults, children, and teens. 


How It Works 

The more information you share about yourself online, the easier it is for someone to dox you. For example, some teens will use their full names as their usernames, tag their location on an Instagram post, or post their cell phone number on social media. Even if someone has only a few pieces of information about you, they can still use those pieces to find even more sensitive information, such as your home address or social security number. 


Common Methods Used in Doxing

Public Profiles 

Social media accounts set to “public” can potentially reveal personally identifiable information that can be used by hackers. 

Government Records

Government websites such as DMV hold information records that can be used in a doxing attack. 

Tracking IP Addresses

If a doxer finds your IP address, they can reach out to your Internet service provider and fake their identity to retrieve your personal  information. 

Reverse Phone Lookup

Once a hacker knows your phone number, they can use a phone lookup service to figure out who you are and where you live. 

Packet Sniffing

Online data is organized into “packets.” When it travels, a hacker can easily grab it and gain access to confidential information like passwords, bank account information, and credit card numbers. 


How To Avoid Being Doxed

Doxing is a serious issue, but there are steps you can start taking right now to prevent it. Read the following tips, then review them with your child to ensure you are both following best practices for online safety and security. 


Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

This will encrypt your Internet transmission and hide your IP address from doxers, allowing you to navigate the Internet securely. 

Create strong passwords.

Ensure your passwords are lengthy, include special characters, and mix upper- and lower-case letters.

Beware of phishing emails.

Avoid clicking on links in emails unless you are absolutely sure who the sender is, why they sent it, and what the link is for. If you receive an email asking for bank or credit card information, be extremely cautious. Most banks will not ask for sensitive information over the phone or email.  

Conduct personal audits.

Ask your children to do a Google search for their social media usernames and/or a reverse phone number search to check if any of their personal information has been compromised in a public data breach. 

Limit personal information online.

As a rule, avoid sharing the following information, especially on social media: full names, phone numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, credit card information, bank account details, your school or workplace, and names of friends and family members. 


What To Do If You’ve Been Doxed

If your child has been targeted by a doxer, follow the steps below to ensure their safety and your own.


Document what happened.

If someone has been publicly posting your private data, it is absolutely essential to gather and preserve all relevant evidence. Take screenshots of the perpetrator’s username, the photos they posted, and the dates. This documentation can be valuable for law enforcement investigations.

Report it.

Doxing violates the Terms of Service on all social media platforms. Report the incident to the platform(s) on which you found the post so they can take down the perpetrator’s account and/or post.

Contact law enforcement.

Report the incident to law enforcement or your local FBI office as soon as possible and inform them of the situation.

Secure your accounts.

Freeze your financial accounts (bank, credit card, etc.) and change your financial and email account passwords. Set your social media profiles to private, or, if you feel it is necessary, delete them.

Seek help from people you trust.

If your home address has been leaked, find a friend or trusted individual who you and your child can stay with, or ask law enforcement to help you look out for any unwanted visitors to your home.


Doxing can be a stressful situation for victims and their families. However, by staying vigilant and taking the necessary precautions, you can minimize the risks to yourself and your family. 


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