Friday, June 27, 2014

Do you know what doxing is?

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

Here's a fright nobody much speaks about. There is a disturbing aspect of cyber harassment called Doxing. Doxing is the researching and publishing of personally identifiable information about an individual to create a public perception about them. This can be accomplished by searching public databases and social media websites to locate pieces of information. The information may initially be fragmented and so the doxer goes about collecting and piecing together the picture they want to create about a victim. Some internet harassers thrive on this as they are able to strengthen their control over a victim by swaying the opinion of others. This is just another way of social engineering where large groups of people are influenced by information framed in such a way as to give an overwhelming perception of an individual. The information may be factual but intentionally presented out of context to project the image they are going for, which is usually to make their target look as bad as possible. The threat of something like this, well it's just about enough when understood to make anyone want to live under a rock!

Doxing is difficult to combat because it is technically not illegal.  Cyber harassers are merely dispensing public information. This type of harassment can be especially harmful to an individual not only because it takes a toll on their mental well-being through potential intense embarrassment, but their reputation can be irreparably damaged. If the individual holds a public position or has a career that depends on public perception, doxing could literally end their livelihood despite additional information presented exonerating the victim. In other words, once the damage is done it is difficult if not impossible for a targeted individual to recover.