The pandemic, doxing and image based sexual abuse – aka: ‘revenge porn’

The pandemic changed many things, but an increase in doxing was one that many people didn’t expect.

hree methods to find out if spyware or stalkerware apps are lurking on your smartphone

One thing we all now know – the pandemic brought sweeping change to pretty much every aspect of our lives, and the term “new normal” quickly invaded our head space. That ‘new normal’ meant that many activities that were normally carried out physically – such as dating, grabbing a coffee or going to a club – moved to the digital space. Now, that transition led to a lot of things, but one thing that came to light, only thanks to recent research, is the sharing of intimate data, including photos and videos.

Coronavirus and lockdowns

We recently did a survey asking people about intimate photos and doxing – the results were, shall we say – surprising. The data shows that there’s been a 20% rise in people sharing nudes and explicit material since the beginning of the pandemic, with 24% of respondents admitting to having shared nude or explicit material with someone they have never even met.

Now, what happens behind closed doors, or private chats is no business of ours – but problems start to occur when the intimate photos people share – be it of themselves or people they know, fall into the wrong hands, or end up being used for malicious purposes.

And that’s where things start to get out of control, with those images used for the purposes of doxing – which is the act of making private information public, as a way to control, coerce or manipulate somebody. And sadly, doxing nowadays is more relevant than ever.

Image based sexual abuse and doxing

Image based sexual abuse, aka – revenge porn, is a particularly nasty version of doxing as it uses explicit imagery, usually sent between parties who trust each other, to try to dox or manipulate a victim.

This type of criminal activity is, sadly, more prevalent than we would expect – mainly due to the increase in explicit photography and videos being kept on personal devices. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Think before you post. Be mindful of who you share your data with and when. Always consider how the content you share online might be interpreted and used by others
  2. Do not share anything private on a public, unsecured internet connection.
  3. Understand which messengers are safe and which have end-to-end encryption.
  4. If you think you may have been doxed, keep evidence, and report it to the police and platforms where you believe your data is available.
  5. Always check the permission settings on the apps you use, to minimise the likelihood of your data being shared or stored by third parties – and beyond – without your knowledge;
  6. Use two-factor authentication. Remember that using an application that generates one-time codes is more secure than receiving the second factor via SMS.
  7. Use a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Password Manager to generate and secure unique passwords for every account; resist the temptation to reuse the same one;
  8. To find out if any of the passwords you use to access your online accounts have been compromised, use a tool such as Kaspersky Security Cloud. The ‘Account Check’ feature allows users to inspect their accounts for potential data leaks. If a leak is detected, Kaspersky Security Cloud provides information about the categories of data that may be publicly accessible so that the individual affected can take appropriate action.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our doxing education tool.