You’ve Been Doxed!  How To Protect Personal Information.

Security guards can increase their career opportunities by broadening their understanding of the security industry.  After all, there is a lot more to security than being a uniformed guard patrolling a building or standing a post.  In this article I’ll delve into one aspect of security called executive protection or what some might call VIP security.  Specifically, I’ll address information security and “doxing.”

Like just about anything else that has been dramatized by Hollywood, executive protection can conjure up images that don’t necessarily represent reality: tough-looking guys wearing dark suits, carrying concealed weapons, wearing earpieces, and looking very serious all the time.  Certainly, there is a “guard” component of executive protection.  Still, that is a very small part of the overall job.  An executive protection team is primarily focused on preventing threats rather than dealing with threats once they materialize.  With that in mind, keeping your client’s personal information secure is of paramount importance.

The recent leak of a draft opinion in a Supreme Court abortion case resulted in the release of the home addresses of the conservative leaning Supreme Court Justices.  This is called “doxing.”  It is a major breach of security.  Once the location of a VIP’s home becomes public, the risk to that person’s personal safety is tremendously increased.  Consequently, additional security measures will be employed. They may include increasing the security presence in and around the client’s residence and/or temporarily moving the client to a safer location.  In some cases, doxed individuals have been forced to sell their homes and move to an entirely different city or state.  But how do we reduce the risk of doxing in the first place?

High level government officials and some executives of large corporations have security teams that work tirelessly to keep their home addresses out of the public eye.  They will sometimes hire expensive consulting firms that specialize in securing the personal information of their clients.  Most of the time such efforts are successful, but obviously it doesn’t always work.  The case of the Supreme Court Justices is a prime example.  If somebody really wants that information, they will find a way to get it.  The goal is to keep the information away from those who don’t possess the skill or the determination to acquire it. 

To see how easy it is to find someone’s home address, simply run a search for your name and city of residence.  You can do so on any of the popular people search sites available on the internet.  You might be alarmed by how easy it is for somebody to find you.  Fortunately, there are relatively inexpensive and simple ways to deal with those types of people searches.  If you would like to learn how, the best way is to practice by securing your own information.  Here are four basic steps that will help you protect personal information:

  1. Subscribe to a service that automatically removes your information from people search sites. There are two popular services that come to mind as of this writing.  One is DeleteMe and the other is OneRep.  This won’t work with all websites, but it will work with most of them.  It will also take time.  Expect the process to take several months.
  2. Scrub your social media accounts of all personal information beyond your name (birth date, age, place of birth, home address, home city or region, phone number, employer, etc.).  If you post it on social media or anywhere on the internet, it will be scooped up by search sites and become available to anybody who wants it.
  3. Run internet searches for yourself.  If you find your information on sites that DeleteMe or OneRep didn’t find, you’ll have to get those removed on your own.  Read the site’s opt-out policy and then follow the instructions.  If it’s a government website, contact the government agency directly and request the removal of your information from public view.
  4. Update your public records.  If you have state or local licenses that use your home address, get a UPS or Postal Annex mailbox and update your records to show your new address.  If you own a home, take the house out of your name.  You can do this easily by forming a living trust and placing your home in the trust.  Make sure the name of the trust is something generic that does not include your name.  For example: “123 Family Trust” as opposed to “John Smith Family Trust.”

Obviously, these steps won’t plug every leak that could result in you being doxed.  If you have a neighbor or former friend who doesn’t like you, nothing prevents that person from doxing you by publicly posting your address.  Still, taking the preliminary steps I’ve outlined above will make being doxed less likely by reducing the number of people who have access to your information.  So, there you are. By reading this short article and watching the accompanying video you’ve learned how to protect yourself from doxing as best as you can.  In the process, you’ve increased your career opportunities by broadening your understanding of the security industry.  Well done!