Secure Your Online Data
The more you can do to manage your online data prior to an attack, the better protected you will be. This is because online attackers often use your personal data to harass and intimidate you. Taking steps to get data removed in advance will limit the amount of information available to attackers.
Map your Profile
Review the content you have online by carrying out a search of your name on all search engines and check what can be publicly seen on your social media accounts. Take note of all information that makes you vulnerable to an attack. This may include information such as your address or personal phone number. It could also include publicly available photos and videos on your social media and other sites.
Journalists should remove unwanted data from their sites or social media. If such content is held on the sites of family or friends you will need to speak to them to see if it can be taken down. Data held on third-party platforms, such as public databases, can be more difficult to remove. Getting information taken down will depend on local legislation. Be aware that even if you remove data from the internet a copy of it may still exist online in archive sites or in others’ personal accounts.
Secure your accounts
Online abusers may try to hack your accounts. Take steps to secure your online accounts and the data within them by using long unique passwords, using a password manager, and turning on two-step verification. See our guide to secure accounts for more information.
For Journalists in the United States
Journalists living in the United States are highly likely to have a lot of personal data about them available online in public databases. This may include their address, personal phone number and the names of relatives. This data is made easily searchable by people finder sites, which abusers can use to locate, contact, and doxx journalists.
To reduce the risk of journalists’ personal information being made public and used to harass and intimidate them, they should consider signing up for services that remove their data from such sites. Common services include DeleteMe or Privacy Duck. Online attackers will often go after close family members, so it is a good idea to sign them up too. Be aware that it may take several months for your data to be removed. Review your online profile every three-to-six months to ensure data is being taken down.
Share With Your Network
Learn more about securing online data with the following resources:
The Committee to Protect Journalists
A comprehensive review of how to take down content online. Available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
The New York Times
A detailed step-by-step guide on how to find and remove your data from the internet by the NYT’s Open team.
A thorough guide to managing your online data.
A user-friendly guide to protecting your privacy on all major social media platforms.
The International Women’s Media Foundation and Free Press Unlimited
An online course giving practical guidance for women journalists about online privacy and how better to protect it. Available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
Useful security tips for protecting your privacy when using online dating services.
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Learn more about data about data, and how it can impact you in case it ends up in the wrong hands.