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Kaspersky shares guide to staying safe from doxing

For the uninitiated, doxing is the practice of gathering personal information with the purpose of publishing it or using it in some other way to harm somebody. Because the number of cases is increasing, cybersecurity solutions firm Kaspersky shares steps on how individuals can protect themselves from this online threat.

Learn more about doxing here.

Some social media users see no harm in sharing and geotagging photos, uploading documents to the cloud, installing a new application, or even just browsing online shops. But for cybercriminals, these pieces of information are valuable. There are people who would receive emails or messages from people they don’t know and wonder where did they get their personal information.

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To help users take back control of their data and protect them from doxing, Kaspersky privacy experts have developed a comprehensive checklist on how to handle one’s private data responsibly, without it becoming a headache.

Kaspersky’s research shows that looking after private data has finally become a mainstream concern, with 50% of consumers claiming they would no longer use an online service provider following a data breach, and 57% expressing worry about their security and privacy being affected by “smart” and internet-connected devices.

Kaspersky said this concern is justified “because online users face data risks on a daily basis.”

Digital life

Using technology nowadays, especially this pandemic is now a necessity. People cannot escape digital life because most, if not all, essential services are online. The best online users can do is take precautions because as many cybersecurity said, there is really no silver bullet to prevent hacking or data breaches.

“We are still learning exactly how to build our relationships with technology, so we can better trust it with our personal data, as well as use it more mindfully to avoid potential anxiety or burnout,” Kaspersky said. “For example, the innocent photo of a teen with a newly issued ID may end up in the hands of financial scammers, and an emotional message directed to friends – seen and reported by a stranger as radical and offensive. Your photos from the latest party might surface online without approval and your kid’s smartwatch might be broadcasting their live location 24/7.

Here is a checklist of things online users can do. You can find the explanation here.

  1. Be conscious of which personal data you share and with whom, as well as how much you trust them.
  2. Be mindful of who you share your data with and when.
  3. Think before you post. Be accountable for what you share. Every time. Even if your account is closed.
  4. Use abstract geotags if any at all. Do not tag photos with specific locations that you visit regularly.
  5. Make sure that you do not show your personal data on the photos you share.
  6. Understand which messengers are safe and which ones have end-to-end encryption.
  7. Invest wisely in your smart devices. Cheap development often means higher data leak risks.
  8. Shop online in trusted stores. The fewer, the better.

These are the things that online users can control. For the things they cannot, here is a list of some things to do when browsing the internet.

  1. Opt for a browser that’s built with privacy in mind or set up a plug-in that minimizes tracking.
  2. Set up browser cookies to be deleted after each session
  3. Look for higher privacy settings in the browser’s options interface
  4. Use incognito browsing.
  5. Use a basic VPN.
  6. Change the local region on your phone.
  7. Never install unverified applications

Online risks

While some of the risks such as data leaks and ransomware attacks on organizations are largely beyond a user’s control, other threats, such as doxing, can be tackled by users themselves. Doxing is made possible because there are so many public channels (forums, social media, and application records) where user data gets exposed, but that can be prevented.

Digital risks do not mean that users should stop expressing themselves online and it certainly is not something that most people are willing to do anyway.

“Technology and innovation should improve lives, and strengthen our mental welfare,” Kaspersky said. “As such, digital wellbeing should be a top priority for all, especially during the challenging time we live in. This is why digital citizens need to learn how to treat personal data online responsibly similarly to how we treat our finances and take care of physical belongings.”