DOXING (alternative: DOXXING)
To dox someone is to find out private information about them and then to release that information to the public. It is often used to refer to releasing the identy of someone who was trying to remain hidden or unknown, but can be used to refer to the release of almost any information which is private, including phone numbers, addresses, etc.
The information is often (but not necessarily) gathered by hacking; someone may access your email account, your cloud data, your smartphone, or your computer. However, the data could be found by more simple means (Google, other online research, or more ordinary investigative techniques), or by more skilled means (careful analysis of various technical information).
Michelle Obama was doxed when hackers released her Social Security number (similar to Japan's new "My Number"), her financial history, and other personal information. This also happened to Hillary Clinton, rapper Jay Z, and Mel Gibson.
A more famous case of doxing happened when Sony was set to release a film called The Interview, about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un. It is believed that North Korean hackers then broke into Sony's computer system and stole a large number of privtae emails and documents; they threatened to release the data if Sony released the film. The data was released, including an email with somewhat racist remarks relating to President Obama.
Doxing is sometimes related to hactivism, a practice in which the hackers are political or social activists, trying to harm people they see as dangerous or just bad. The famous hacker group Anonymous carried out a doxing against members of the Ku Klux Klan, a famously racist organization in the United States. Hactivists also released personal information about Martin Shkreli, a man famous for buying the rights to an important drug for treating tuberculosis, and then raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
Doxing, however, is often disapproved of, and is seen as dangerous, because the person doing the doxing is not always accurate, and sometimes releases information which destroys the life of an innocent person. After a bomb was set off at the Boston Marathon in 2013, online amateur detectives released information claiming that they knew the identity of the terrorists. One was a 17-year-old boy who was innocent. Another was a boy who suffered from depression, who was later found to have committed suicide.
A troll is someone who is interested in starting fights, usually for personal gratification.
An Internet troll is usually someone who will join a discussion group, message board, or comments area (place where people have discussions online), and then make public statements which are designed to make everyone angry or upset. The troll then enjoys seeing people getting emotional and starting fights.
There can be "trolls" who are not on the Internet as well; anyone who makes explosive comments in public for the purpose of angering people can be called a "troll."
There is one other type of troll related to computers: a patent troll. A patent is a claim someone makes when they create a new design, device, or technology. A patent troll buys patents for one purpose: to sue big, rich companies. After buying patents for certain technologies, they look for companies that are using a similar technology. Then they claim that the company is stealing their property.
Patent trolls were as active as ever in 2015, and one troll just had a big victory, winning a judgment for $626 million from Apple. However, they might not collect that; trolls sometimes get beaten on appeal.
A ratter is someone who uses a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) to access your computer. People who do this can gain access to your files and control various aspects of your computer.
The most disturbing aspect of this is when a ratter spies on unsuspecting users with their own webcams. The ratter can watch through the camera of a computer they infected, even when the computer's owner is not using the webcam. Ratters have been known to use this and other data they find to harrass and even blackmail the computer's owner, threatening to make the information public, sending it to their friends and family.
Ask yourself: are there things you do in front of your open laptop, desktop or webcam device which you would not want everyone to see?
Also keep in mind that your computer can be infected, sometimes with multiple attacks, and you might not even be aware of it. Malware tries to hide so you will not fix it.
There are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Make certain that you have active anti-malware software running on your computer. If you have not actively installed anti-virus apps on your computer, then it is not protected! Avast and Sophos are free apps with version for Windows and Macintosh. More free and paid solutions can be found. When you install your anti-virus app, and every few months, run a full scan of your computer.
- Avoid running any software you cannot trust. Pirated software is often infected. However, infections can come from various places, including email attachments and dodgy web sites. Be cautious, and be aware.
- Cover your webcam a small piece of electrical tape. This kind of tape does not stick hard, and can be easily removed and replaced multiple times. Fold over one end of the tape so that there is an un-sticky "handle" you can easily grasp and move the tape with. NOTE: this will only block the camera, it will not protect your computer from other kinds of attack.