In a recent report seen on CBS, it was noted that following the fatal shooting of a civilian by a Los Angeles police officer, an unknown individual posted that officer’s personal information online. The information provided included his name, home address, personal phone number, the location of his child’s school, and more.
What Is Doxing?
Doxing involves researching personal information that can be used to identify an individual such as that listed above and then publishing it. In most cases, this is done with malicious intent. Other information might include the license and registration number of his or her personal vehicle, social media account information, cell phone number, basically, any information that can be used to identify the person and allow people to harass them in person or online. In fact, doxing has become such a huge problem that both the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center have sent warnings to law enforcement officers and many other public officials across the country.
Keeping Yourself and Your Family Safe
At a recent webinar hosted by the American Military University covering this topic, James Deater, the presenter, a former Maryland State Trooper with 23 years’ experience including wiretapping and numerous other forms of electronic investigation, provide a range of advice for law enforcement officers.
He had this to say, “Any officer could end up in a situation where you do everything right in accordance with agency policy, but the incident is captured on video and it looks wrong to the public. It happens all the time and as soon as your name is released to the public, you become a target. You may not be able to stop it, but you can at least make it difficult for people to find your private information.”
• Be very aware of the privacy and security settings on your social media and personal accounts.
• Be careful with whom you share this information.
• Limit the frequency with which you post your location, including your home.
• Routinely update your security software and scan all computers in your home.
• Use top of the line anti-virus software, keep it updated, and scan regularly.
• Be careful when following any links in emails or opening any attachments.
• Add anti-virus and other forms of protection to your social media, bank, and email accounts.
• Choose separate unique passwords for each account and change them on a regular basis.
• Be aware that anything you post online can be used against you and cannot be removed.
Request the Removal of Personal Information
If you find your personal information posted on a website, there are steps you can take to have it removed. The best way to find out how to do this is to request access to the seminar by James Deater by contacting him directly from your agency email address. Send your request to [email protected]. Here are some of the most common websites you are likely to find your personal information listed on:
• Google Earth
Bear in mind, removing your name and personal information from these sites is an exercise in patience as there is a lot of paperwork involved, especially if you are also trying to remove information about your family. However, you will find the effort well worth it as doing so can help protect you and your family from a wide variety of malicious attacks.