Have you heard of People Smart? People Smart is some super scary internet. I searched my name and state, then 10 seconds later it gave me every city I’ve lived in and the full names of every member of my family. Go try it on yourself, if you don’t believe me. The interface is pretty nice and they have advanced search to make it even easier.
If you are anything like me your steps should be
- Search for yourself, say “what? woah. WHAT? woaaaah”, then feel at least moderately creeped out
- Opt out of People Smart so that other people can’t find you so easily
- Look up you most paranoid friends and send them screen shots to freak them out
- Call it a day. Wew! That was a lot of work
tl;dr Your personal information is too easy to find online, go here and do everything it says to opt out.
Doxing and why you should be concerned
On the privacy paranoia scale from 1 to 10 I score a “I mostly don’t give a shit”. But even I know that there is some risk to having my name, addresses, and all of my family so easily identifiable. Which is why we need to talk about doxing. I’ll quote the definition from wikipedia so that you don’t have to open a new tab:
Doxing … is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual. The methods employed to acquire this information include searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and social engineering. It is closely related to cyber-vigilantism and hacktivism.
Basically if .you piss off someone on the internet doxing is the first and favorite method of attack . You have probably seen at least one story of some poor fool getting on Anonymous’s bad side. First they get every tiny bit of that poor fool’s personal information (name, family, home address, phone number, all internet accounts) and release it publicly. That step is doxing. Maybe I should be explicit: you don’t want to be doxed. If you are that poor fool and things escalate then the next steps IRL  are usually hundreds of pizzas being ordered to your home, 911 calls resulting in SWAT teams sent to your home , and lots of death threats . Your online presence will be obliterated because you probably are too lazy to use a password manager and you reuse passwords more than zero times .
Anti-Doxing: what to do now that you are sufficiently freaked out
So. That is bad and scary. The good news is that the internet is fickle and has a short attention span. If you really piss off Anonymous then there is no hope for you. Sorry. But you probably never will. You just need to defend yourself from smaller time identity thieves or a possibly a crazy individual. In that case what you really need to do is make it just annoying/time-consuming/expensive enough that that person decides you aren’t worth the trouble and moves on to the next poor fool.
The “product” that you need to know about today is this article from computer world. This article is basically adding something to your todo list which… sorry, not sorry. The article is super concise and gives you direct links and instructions for removing yourself from sites like PeopleSmart. It also includes instructions for sites like Spokeo which are good at connecting your screen name to your real name. It just keeps getting scarier
DON’T PUT THIS OFF, JUST DO IT
I think this is important enough that I told all of my friends and family about it
At a minimum go through the whole list and remove yourself from the easy sites on here. It took me 20 minutes from my iPhone and probably would have been 10 minutes on a laptop. If you are feeling more paranoid from all of this then go ahead and remove yourself from some of the harder to opt-out of sites too . With any luck, when you get targeted, eliminating these ultra simple tools will make it just annoying enough that you will be forgotten instead of getting doxed. Also, with any luck, few enough people read this site that no one targets me, because I know that thee is nothing I can do against a seriously motivated group of angry internet.
Thats, what, a 4? How does this scale work? It basically means that I have no problem with loyalty cards, feel pretty ok with the amount of data Google collects, but I get more nervous about lesser known companies ↩
Then get distracted for half an hour and completely forget about doxxing and the mean scary internet that you are having so much fun on ↩
I mean, it depends on who you are exactly or what is getting attacked. DDOS is still plenty popular if “you” are considered more a site and less a person ↩
Do I need to explain that IRL means In Real Life? No. You know that. It’s cool. We cool ↩
Especially if it is about ethics in video game journalism. I thought this reference might be too dated by now to make. It is not. Death threats are still going coming up on 1 year later ↩
Stop doing that. Do I really need to write a post about password managers. Man, password managers are so basic you shouldn’t even think about going without one. That would be like if you don’t back up your… oh god. You don’t back up either? … ↩
Hey, thats a cool idea. Maybe you should tell people about this… and then while you are at it tell them about insignificant.info and share it on Facebook or share it with your mom or something. Wait, maybe do a search for the F-bomb on here before sending it to mom, I can’t remember how real it gets ↩
Yeah, some of these require you to fax things. I’m worried about my privacy but not fax machine worried ↩