Understanding Doxxing

What is Doxxing? 

Doxxing refers to the publication or distribution of personal, identifying information about an individual in an attempt to coerce, intimidate, or harass them. The term “doxxing" (or “doxing”) originates from the phrase “dropping documents (docs or dox)”. 

Information published in doxxing incidents may include the individual’s home address, phone number, or email address; it may also include images, videos, or other content accessed by hacking the individual’s personal account(s). Doxxing is often used as a means of attacking individuals for their political activities or positions. 

Protect Yourself from Doxxing

(adapted from the Protecting Yourself Online section of “Information Security Awareness – Students”)  

Threats of identity theft and other malicious activities are ever-present online. Fortunately, there are simple actions you may take to protect yourself. Although not an exhaustive list, the following guidelines, tips, and reminders will assist you in safeguarding your personal information. 

  • Use strong, unique passwords for your accounts and avoid sharing them. For help choosing a good phasephrase, see https://security.virginia.edu/passphrase-guidance. Do not re-use UVA passwords/passphrases anywhere else online. 

  • Be cautious about posting personal information on Instagram, Facebook, X, or other social media sites. When using social media, do not post your home address, phone number, workplace address, or other personal information. Limit the visibility of your posts to those in your approved network (“friends”). 
  • When connecting to the internet through an untrusted network, such as in a coffee shop or airport, use a VPN (Virtual Public Network). If you are unable to use a VPN, be sure that the public network sharing functionality on your device is disabled. 

  • Beware of phishing scams and never disclose personal information in unsolicited emails or pop-ups. These emails may appear to be legitimate. Be wary. Legitimate sources will not ask for personal or account information without verifying the email. If you receive an electronic communication such as an email from what appears to be your bank or credit card company, or any email that seems out of context given the sender, directing you to click an embedded link, delete the email. Learn more about phishing

  • Do not use another individual’s credentials or allow them to use yours. 

  • Log off or password lock the screen of your computer when you leave your desk. 

  • Keep information displayed on your screen confidential, and keep confidential printed material secured. 

  • If you become aware that University data may have been exposed to unauthorized persons, contact Information Security at [email protected]

If You Think You’ve Been Doxxed

The following resources are available to assist you if you think you are currently be doxxed.

Report It

  • If you or those close to you are in imminent physical danger or there has been a direct threat of physical violence, you should immediately call 911 (and contact UPD as soon afterwards as you can https://uvapolice.virginia.edu/). If there is no immediate physical threat, but you have received a threat to your personal safety or feel you have been criminally harassed, contact UPD. 

  • Document what you’re experiencing. Save any relevant voicemails, emails, and text messages, and take screenshots or photos of social media postings that include coercive, intimidating, or harassing content.  

  • If the source of the doxxing behavior is a student, contact Student Affairs: Policy, Accountability, and Critical Events (PACE) at [email protected]. PACE can assist you with potential disciplinary action including filing a complaint with the University Judiciary Committee (https://ujc.virginia.edu/file-complaint). PACE can also assist you with understanding the University’s policies related to doxxing.  

  • To report an incident in our community related to Bias and Discrimination/Harassment, Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Hazing, Clery Act Compliance (by CSAs), Interference with Speech Rights, Youth Protection, and Preventing & Addressing Threats or Acts of Violence, use https://justreportit.virginia.edu

  • Report phishing attempts on your UVA email through this page: https://security.virginia.edu/what-is-phishing

Request Removal of Coercive, Harassing, or Threatening Content and Conduct 

Consider Seeking Legal Advice

Student Legal Services could be an option for students seeking legal information or resources.

Examine Your Online Presence

  • The New York Times Digital Security Education Hub contains a list of resources for doxxing security training. These resources may help you prevent potential doxxing by removing sensitive information from public access. 
  • There are also services that can assist for a cost. 
  • To place a FERPA restriction on your SIS academic record, please complete the Request Regarding Confidentiality of Directory Information form. 
    • Please consider very carefully the impacts of any decision to withhold Directory Information. If you choose to request that the University withhold this information, any future request from non-institutional persons or organizations will be refused unless your written consent is provided with the request. Please be aware that this includes verification of education/degrees earned at UVA. 

Explore Care Services at UVA

Contact Care and Support Services. If you need to speak with someone immediately, contact the Dean on Call

Contact TalkNow for 24/7, on-demand access to a mental health professional to talk about anything at any time. Students can connect to TalkNow within minutes to discuss any level of concern, from conflicts with roommates to more serious mental health crises. https://www.studenthealth.virginia.edu/mental-health/timelycare 

Related University Policies

Some of the resources presented on this page are external to or separate from the University of Virginia. The existence of such content does not imply endorsement of the content by Student Affairs or the University of Virginia.