Bolster Your Digital Safety: An Anti-Hacking, Anti-Doxxing Training

Harlo Holmes, Director of Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Viktorya Vilk, Program Director for Digital Safety and Free Expression at PEN America provided hands-on training on how to prevent and respond to specific types of online abuse–doxxing and hacking. Building from our previous webinar on digital safety, this workshop was designed to empower participants to take control of their digital footprint with greater confidence.

Viktorya and Harlo led participants through how to conduct a thorough audit of their social media accounts and tighten their digital privacy. They also provided insights on how different online behaviors can hurt privacy in subtle ways and provided tips on how to protect privacy beyond social media platforms.

Key Takeaways & Best Practices:

  • Doxxing (releasing personal information with malicious intent), hacking, impersonation, and message bombing are especially dangerous forms of online abuse.
  • You can take many (mostly free!) steps to protect yourself from these abuses without having to go off the grid.
  • Practicing good password hygiene and using 2-factor authentication for all eligible accounts is the best way to lay a foundation of privacy and security.
  • Search yourself on the internet periodically to make sure that no unwanted information appears.
    • In addition to a basic Google search, also reverse image search yourself and try these advanced Google search tips to uncover results beyond the expected ones.
    • Try to search for yourself on other search engines, like Bing (specifically for reverse image searching) and Duck Duck Go.
    • Check out international search engines, too, especially Chinese and Russian ones where they index information differently.
  • Be aware of data brokers, such as Spokeo, and consider investing in a scrubbing service that routinely opts out of data brokerages for you like DeleteMe.
  • Audit your social media and update your privacy settings:
    • Check out all the social media platforms on which you appear, even ones you may use less frequently, and try viewing each profile as though you were a random person (most platforms have a public view option).
    • Make sure you know which third parties (apps, websites, etc.) have access to your social media account. Choose the most restrictive options whenever possible, including removing location from your posts or bio.
    • Decide which of your social media profiles will be public/professional facing, and which should remain private. For example, if you plan to use Instagram for photos of your dogs and friends, consider making that profile completely private.

Next Steps: