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Doxing

The meaning of «doxing»

Doxing, or doxxing (from "dox", abbreviation of documents), is the Internet-based practice of researching and publicly broadcasting private or identifying information (especially personally identifying information) about an individual or organization.[1][2][3][4][5][6] 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 Internet vigilantism and hacktivism.

Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including inflicting harm, harassment, online shaming, extortion, coercion, business analysis, risk analytics, aiding law enforcement or vigilante versions of justice.[7][8]

"Doxing" is a neologism that has evolved over its brief history. It comes from a spelling alteration of the abbreviation "docs" (for "documents") and refers to "compiling and releasing a dossier of personal information on someone".[9] Essentially, doxing is revealing and publicizing the records of an individual, which were previously private or difficult to obtain.

The term dox derives from the slang "dropping dox" which, according to Wired writer Mat Honan, was "an old-school revenge tactic that emerged from hacker culture in 1990s". Hackers operating outside the law in that era used the breach of an opponent's anonymity as a means to expose opponents to harassment or legal repercussions.[9]

Consequently, doxing often comes with a negative connotation because it can be a vehicle for revenge via the violation of privacy.[10]

Initial efforts around doxing were largely related to internet discussion forums on Usenet. One of the first documented doxing events was the publication of a "Blacklist of Net.Nazis and Sandlot Bullies"[11] which listed names, email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses of individuals the author objected to.

Doxware is a cryptovirology attack invented by Adam Young and further developed with Moti Yung that carries out doxing extortion via malware. It was first presented at West Point in 2003. The attack is rooted in game theory and was originally dubbed "non-zero sum games and survivable malware".[12]

The attack is summarized in the book Malicious Cryptography as follows:

The attack differs from the extortion attack in the following way. In the extortion attack, the victim is denied access to its own valuable information and has to pay to get it back, where in the attack that is presented here the victim retains access to the information but its disclosure is at the discretion of the computer virus.[13]

Doxware is the converse of ransomware. In a ransomware attack (originally called cryptoviral extortion), the malware encrypts the victim's data and demands payment to provide the needed decryption key. In the doxware cryptovirology attack, the attacker or malware steals the victim's data and threatens to publish it unless a fee is paid.[citation needed]

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