What Is Doxxing? Is It Legal, & How to Prevent It

What Is Doxxing, Is It Illegal, & How to Prevent It in 2024

Published on: October 25, 2023
Last Updated: October 25, 2023

What Is Doxxing, Is It Illegal, & How to Prevent It in 2024

Published on: October 25, 2023
Last Updated: October 25, 2023

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Have you ever scrolled Twitter and come across people discussing how someone got doxxed?

Or even worse, had someone threatened to do the same to you?

So, what is doxxing? Doxxing or doxing is when your personal information is revealed online without your consent.

It is done with harmful intentions. This is bullying of sorts with chances of being attacked in real life. 

Considering all this, you would think doxxing is illegal.

However, it is not so simple, and it is better to prevent being doxxed than go through court proceedings later.  

What Is Doxxing?

Doxxing

We’ll take a wild guess and assume you are aware of the hacker group Anonymous.

No, they are not the doxxers you should be wary of unless you are a government official. 

They do have some responsibility in making the term popular though. Doxxing, as it happens, is the short form of dropping dox.

The word “dox” came from docs, which refers to “documents.”

The hackers would use it while dropping juicy details about authoritarian figures. Now, it is more of a laymen’s game. 

Someone might expose the personal information of a regular online user, and it would be considered doxxing. 

Sometimes, doxxing happens to bigots who post their regressive views online.

Other times, innocent people are harassed for having progressive opinions. At times, it may be pure revenge, such as rejection from someone you liked. 

Regardless of the reason, once a person’s name, address, phone number, email ID, job, or school is available for anyone to access, they have a target on their back. 

Even if nothing ever happens, the person will spend a good portion of their life in fear. 

There are people who get blackmailed they will be doxxed if they do not send a certain amount to the harasser.

Other aftermaths of doxxing include identity theft, stalking, physical assault, swatting, vandalism, etc. 

How Does Doxxing Work?

hacking

When it comes to proper hacking, doxxing involves accessing the personal documents of a person by tapping into the server they use.

These documents may have content which could expose business details or other sensitive information. 

Modern-day doxxing is different. If it is not the work of a hacker, it is the work of a regular person. 

The doxxer searches traces of your profiles all over the internet and gathers them to create a picture of you.

They may openly post it to direct ridicule at you or sell your information on the dark web. 

This is why you should learn how to extract and remove all personal information you have ever allowed on any social media or other websites. 

More than anything, always have a VPN on.

It will protect you from the most damning part of doxxing, allowing your attackers to know your home address. 

Is Doxxing Legal? Can a Person Go to Jail for It?

Similar to all cybercrimes, the laws around doxxing are dodgy and shaky. 

If the information on the person is already publicly available and someone compiles it, there are low chances of being counted as a crime. 

However, if it led to harassment, stalking, or other crimes, a case could be made. Ultimately, it is at the discretion of the judges and jurors. 

Additionally, the nature of the information exposed plays a huge role.

Publicizing someone’s name is not as big of an offense as their address or the university they go to. 

However, countries like the US and Hong Kong have begun passing anti-doxxing laws. 

Some websites also have strict regulations against doxxing.

While rules stated by websites are not legally applicable, the website owner can ban the doxxer permanently to protect the rights of others. 

On top of it all, if you dox someone and it results in the person being mentally or physically hurt, you can go to jail.

The court might deem you as the root cause of harassment or an accomplice. 

How to Protect Yourself from Doxxers?

If you are vocal about your opinions online and have a large following, getting doxxed is not out of the realm of possibility. 

To prevent doxxing, you should limit the amount of information others can access about you online.

Take a look at the following steps to understand how to do it. 

Use a VPN to Hide Your IP address

The primary role of a VPN has always been to hide your IP address.

Essentially, it connects you to a secure VPN server before it is redirected to the public internet. 

So, when someone tries to figure out your IP address, they will only see the server address of the VPN and not your actual IP. 

Many VPNs also allow you to choose false IP addresses.

You can select and switch between fake IP addresses, and your attackers will forever remain confused. 

Why should you hide your IP address?

Because it is the number one way a doxxer figures out your geographical location. You can also prevent attackers from snooping on your online activities. 

Private Social Media Profiles

Most doxxers are not experienced hackers. They are not capable of figuring out your IP address, much less your physical location from it. 

What they can do is stalk your social media.

Why would they need to doxx when we are practically handing everything to them?

Our social media profiles have our birthday, name of our friends and family, job history, and even address at times. 

While it is impractical to ask you to stop using social media altogether, you can private it. Only those whom you trust will have access to you then. 

For social sites such as Instagram, you can ramp up the security settings. Also, you can prevent search engines from indexing your profile. 

Do Not Use Third-Party Login

When you try to sign up for a new website, they often give you the option to log in from your Google or Facebook profile. 

This removes the hassle of coming up with a new username and password. 

The downside is that the websites end up exchanging information about you.

Interconnecting your profiles also makes it easier for someone to collect your information. 

You are also more vulnerable to data breaches.

If someone manages to figure out your Facebook credentials, they can use them to log in on to all connected accounts. 

You may find yourself locked out of your own account while the hacker sends suspicious messages to your friends and family. 

Get Your Online Information Removed

Doxxers do not always do the work themselves. Sometimes, they go to data brokers. 

These are companies which collect and sell your personal data by combing through your social profiles and activities online. 

Their wealth of information dives into your financial history, medical records, buying habits, credit score, and worse. 

If a data breach were to occur, which is always a possibility, your information would be leaked along with many others. 

However, data brokers cannot legally hold your information.

If you request them individually to remove your data, they are bound by the law to do so. It would be a cumbersome but doable process. 

You can also use a security service. These apps will find data brokers on your behalf and initiate the process of data removal. 

Use Alias on Online Forums

Use a generic username if you frequently use internet forums. Your personal information is not included in their profile.

In fact, provide as many bogus details as you can. For every profile, you open an online forum and diversify your username.

If you use the same name everywhere, it will not take long before doxxers figure out your identity. 

Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication

Your password is easy to figure out, no matter how creative you think you have been with it. 

Multi-factor authentication provides deeper security.

When someone tries to login into your account from an unregistered device, multi-factor verification is triggered. 

So, the website will send a code to your mobile number or email ID to confirm it is you.

Additionally, the website may ask questions such as who your favorite singer was growing up. 

Unless the hacker has your device with them, they should not be able to enter your account. 

Turn on Google Alerts

Turn on Google Alerts

Google Alerts are not perfect, but they are sufficient enough to notify you.

Turn on Google Alerts regarding your full name, address, phone number, email ID, and other personal information. 

If new data regarding you appear online, Google Alerts should inform you. This will give you a headstart in counterattacking the doxxer. 

Become Your Own Doxxer

No, we are not asking you to leak all personal information about yourself online. However, it can be beneficial to think like a doxxer. 

What would you do if you had to doxx someone?

Do a google search of your name on the internet. From there, check your websites and social media profiles.

Carefully audit the information you can readily gather. 

Then, dive into what is not available at first glance but can be found with some snooping. 

Delete or tighten the security around the particular information. 

Best VPNs to Prevent Doxxing 2024

Your IP address is the first thing a doxxer looks for. There is nothing scarier than threatening someone by exposing their home address. 

If you own a website, all a person has to do is do a WHOIS lookup.

You can stop people from doing so by buying privacy from the hosting platform, but it is not always foolproof. 

Advanced netizens can poke into your wireless network or your server, logging info for the IP address. 

VPN can prevent doxxing by making it impossible for hackers to find your real IP. And so, we have the 3 best VPNs in the market for it. 

1. NordVPN

NordVPN

Recommended Guide: NordVPN Review

No VPN has managed to hold on to its reputation as the fastest VPN around, like NordVPN

There is not a single user who will claim there has been a drop in the speed once they turn on the service. 

Covering 60 countries, you get 5000 servers with NordVPN. For those deeply worried about doxxers, NordVPN monitors the dark web.

Any time your information is leaked or sold, you will know. NordVPN also assigns you a fake IP.

Add to it their malware and threat blocker and tracker, military-grade encryption, multi-faction authentication, private DNS, and browser extension, you have nothing to fear. 

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The obfuscated servers allow you to hide your VPN connection and internet browsing altogether. You are also protected by NordVPN when you are traveling

Their strict no-log policy lives up to its promise, and the mesh net option allows you to connect to other devices via private tunnels rather than to the internet. 

You can also use NordVPN on 6 devices at once. The most vital feature might be the kill switch.

However, if there is a drop in your internet connection at any point, NordVPN kills your connection to protect your data. 

2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Recommended Guide: Surfshark VPN Review

Next on our list, we have another great VPN service provider- Surfshark VPN.

It ticks every box you want a VPN service to excel in, especially if you want to prevent getting doxxed. 

It comes with the following:

  • AES 256 encryption
  • WireGuard
  • IKEv2/IPsec
  • Leak protection and secure DNS
  • No-log policy

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  • Surfshark is the best budget VPN
  • 30-day risk-free trial
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • 3200+ servers in 95 countries
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Great for: private browsing on a budget
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone & iOS, Linux, FireFox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and more

Surfshark’s servers are obfuscated and are RAM only.

Which means that in the event someone raids the servers, all data would be lost the moment they try to move the servers. 

The VPN has been independently audited, which validates the claims from Surfshark. 

It also has antivirus, search protection, and data breach alerts. It is available at $2.05 per month for 2 years with 2 months extra.

There is also the yearly plan, which will cost you $3.99 per month. 

3. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN

Recommended Guide: Atlas VPN Review

It is not common for VPN services to come for free. Atlas VPN allows you to mask your IP address as long as you are only using 2GB daily. 

If you want to raise your data cap, you can go for their premium plans. Most people pick the 3-year option, where you only have to pay $1.83 per month. 

You get 3 months of extra use and a money-back guarantee for 30 days. It has over 750 servers to offer you in 45 countries.

When you have these many server options, doxxers can never figure out your IP address. 

👉 Get Atlas VPN FREE

  • Atlas VPN is the best free VPN
  • Privacy Pro servers
  • 750 servers in 40+ locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Great for: people seeking a freemium VPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, MacOS, Android, iPhone & iOS, Android TV, Fire TV Stick

What solidifies the protection is the MultiHop+ feature. You can switch between several rotating servers with it, so you have layers of encryption. 

The no-log policy also ensures that no data of yours is stored on any of Atlas VPN’s servers. 

Split tunneling exists so you can use your local network while browsing riskier websites on the internet on a VPN. 

Atlas VPN also comes with WireGuard protocol and third-party blockers. It also prevents malware and phishing attacks

Through Safe Swap, you can use the internet through multiple IP addresses. 

Whether you are using the free or premium version of the Atlas VPN, you can log in to it from all devices once you register. 

FAQs

How Can I Tell if Someone Has Doxxed Me?

You can check whether you’ve been doxxed by searching for your name on popular social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as search engines like Google.

You might have been the target of a doxxing assault if you notice a compilation of your personal information.

How Does Doxxing Impact the Victims?

Doxing can have a wide range of effects on a person. It may have an impact on someone’s physical health, career, and, in particularly severe situations, mental health.

Feelings of intense worry that may have an adverse effect on their mental health can result from living with the possibility of being doxxed or from actually being doxxed.

Is Doxxing on Public Record? Is Doxxing Illegal?

It varies. If the disclosed information is public record, doxxing is not prohibited.

Public records include information about arrests, moving offenses, unions, and divorces.

It is immoral to publish this data online without your authorization, but it is not illegal.

In Summary, the best VPNs in 2024 are;

Final Thoughts

If you are worried you are in danger of being doxxed, get a VPN immediately.

After securing your IP and blocking third-party snoopers, start removing your personal data from the internet.

👉 Get NordVPN’s FREE Trial

As long as you have one of the best VPNs to prevent doxxing, you should be safe. 

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Written by Trevor Cooke

Trevor Cooke is an accomplished technology writer with a particular focus on privacy and security. He specializes in topics such as VPNs, encryption, and online anonymity. His articles have been published in a variety of respected technology publications, and he is known for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and accessible manner.

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