Today we’re skipping the regular stuff on games, gaming, and other things to instead focus on protecting ourselves online. With all the craziness of being online these days, there are few things as scary as getting doxxed. Just the threat of it alone is enough to create intense fear as well as instantly silence discussion or debate on just about any platform. I’ve been looking for a while to find ways to help protect and recover from this sort of problem and while 100% protection isn’t possible, I have found some great resources that can help deal with the problem and protect yourself from the worst of it.
First, you should go read this post on what to do if you’ve been doxxed, by Zoe Quinn. It’s not very long, but the resources she discusses and the attitudes she takes are invaluable. I’m serious. Go read it. Most of my advice below, will just be riffing off what she’s already stated in her post. Go now, I’ll wait. Back? Okay, so here are some additional steps you can take above and beyond the advice that Ms. Quinn recommends.
Documentation: If you’re going to talk to law enforcement about any potential threat, they will want documentation. Without documentation, or the possibility of an imminent threat (not at all desirable), there’s very little that law enforcement can do for you. A great free tool to help with online documentation and screen capture specifically is Skitch (now owned by Evernote). It’s cross platform and easy to install and use. In the post above, Dropbox is another useful tool mentioned for capturing and managing any volume of documentation in a safe place that can be reached from anywhere with an internet connection. So even if you lose your laptop, you still have your data.
Mental Health: For the most part, I can only reiterate what is in the post above. You have to take care of yourself. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. But if you are alone and you’re feeling really low, don’t forget there is always the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is not a defeat to ask for help, nor is it a victory to suffer in silence. If you need help. Ask for it. And keep asking until you get it.
Facebook Privacy: Lots of people use Facebook. One of my favorite tech sites on the internet, Lifehacker.com, keeps an always up-to-date page on their site for maintaining Facebook Privacy. Go there if you need to tighten up the security on your Facebook account. You won’t regret it.
Password Security: I’ve always been very annoyed by password managers, but these days the inconvenience of using them doesn’t come close to the problems you can incur by not having a strong password management system. If you’re going to try and go it alone without one, I highly recommend this post from Lifehacker UK on strong password management from an article about Online games. It’s good advice on password creation and can be used with or without a password manager.
Getting out of Dodge: Do you have a go-bag packed up and ready, at your home or in your car, in the event of an emergency evacuation? It’s always a good idea to have one, and the paranoid survival nuts have the best sites up on how to make them and keep them ready so you can leave at a moment’s notice. Most of the time, they’re made for what to do when survival without infrastructure is necessary (for example when floods, hurricanes, or other major weather events knock out a town or city). But if you’ve been successfully doxxed and your place of residence is now public knowledge, getting away to someplace safe as quickly as possible, and with as little fuss as necessary can be life-saving. Even if it’s just a change of clothes and some emergency cash stored in a gym bag. Anything you can use to just grab and go.
Account Security: In her post, Ms. Quinn links to an excellent primer on 2-factor authentication. Here is a link to another great post with links to the most common sites you use that have setup for 2-factor authentication (Google, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, and more). You should do this before you get hacked, but even if it happens after, go do it anyway. It’s easy to use and will significantly improve the security of your accounts.
Traced on the Internet: Did you know there are places on the internet where you can go and type your name in and the site will then tell you where you live and lots of other things about you? Did you know these places have opt out policies that you can take advantage of to hide yourself from people who may want to figure out where you live? The post above mentions 2, Spokeo and whois (if you own a domain/run a website). There’s also a site called Abine Online Privacy and they have a product called DeleteMe. It’s pricy at $129 for a year’s worth of protection, but if you’ve got the money to spend and want to be scrubbed from major websites for a year, this is not necessarily a bad idea.
Okay, time to get real. A lot of this stuff is tedious, boring, unfun, and somewhat complicated to do (though a lot of these links should help with that). Password managers are a pain, and some privacy settings on social media can actually make it harder to use beyond the normal every day experience. Be that as it may, I cannot recommend enough taking some steps to protect yourself. Most of the items on the list below are just good security protection measures that you can take to give you a layer of protection above and beyond what ordinary sites offer, and can help with things other than doxxing or hacking attempts. 2-Factor Authentication is becoming available on nearly every major site and service, and should absolutely be taken advantage of, to protect yourself from hacking. Making a go-bag is good for several things beyond doxxing, and it’s fun to play with toys, especially if you take advantage of some of the survival tips for the bags.
The most important thing though is to take care of yourself and your loved ones and stay safe. I hope this post helps. Links to the sites referenced above and in the original post from Ms. Quinn are in a list below. I’ll try to keep it updated as I get more information and as links change. See you next time.
Zoe Quinn’s guide to dealing with Doxing: http://ohdeargodbees.tumblr.com/post/99694581114/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-the-internet-to
Screen-Capture Tool Skitch: https://evernote.com/skitch/#
Disappearing From the Internet
How to get off of Spokeo : http://www.sileo.com/spokeo-scary-bad-how-to-opt-out/
Domain security: http://www.whois.net/
Abine Online Privacy and DeleteMe: https://www.abine.com/deleteme/landing.php
Managing your Facebook Privacy: http://lifehacker.com/5813990/
Password Protection and Account Security
Password choosing and management: http://www.lifehacker.co.uk/
2-factor Authentication: http://lifehacker.com/5938565/
Google Account Authentication page: https://www.google.com/
Facebook Account Recovery: https://www.facebook.com/help/131719720300233/
Dropbox Support: https://www.dropbox.com/support/login
Skype Live Chat Support: https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10656/what-is-live-chat-support
Making a Go Bag
Go Bag Preparation Tips: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/05/10/how-to-build-a-get-home-bag-book-giveaway/