Highlighted Tools and Practices

In Alison’s story, she mentions several tools and practices that she employed to protect her privacy and security online. These tools and practices made her hard to dox, and ultimately led the doxxers from 8chan to give up and move on to other targets. Read this section to learn more about four highlighted tools and practices: using the Tor browser, removing information from data brokers, securing passwords, and maintaining an “adversarial mindset” about the internet. How and when you use these tools and practices depends on what level of risk you have personally decided is acceptable given your work, your identity, and your tolerance level for danger. This is also a process and you can gradually increase your use of privacy and security tools.

  • Adversarial mindset Having an adversarial mindset about the internet means researching different website and online services, and deciding which may put you at what you decide is an unacceptable level of risk. For Alison, this means not using Facebook and carefully considering what information she posts on other sites. Consider that personally compromising information can be extracted from even innocuous-seeming images. For example, Alison told us that the doxxers from 8chan used a picture she posted that showed a bridge near her house, with graffiti, to identify her location.

    • The Electronic Freedom Foundation provides this threat modeling exercise, which you can use to think further about having an adversarial mindset with the internet.

  • Tor The Tor browser offers several features: you can browse the internet without other people being able to see which sites you visit, it prevents sites that you visit from learning your physical location, and it allows you to visit sites that are blocked.

  • Data brokers There are many sites that aggregate and create profiles of your information. Many agencies and companies find this information and further share it. Here is an example of a data brokers that you can opt out of.

    • Spokeo aggregates publicly available information and creates extensive profiles on individuals, often including personal information like address, age and family members. To remove your listing from Spokeo, first find your profile on Spokeo.com, then visit https://www.spokeo.com/optout.

  • Securing passwords Here are several methods that can be used to create a more secure password.

    • Diceware method: The diceware method will give you a random password that is extremely difficult to guess yet easy to remember. Use the Diceware word list and a dice. Roll your dice five times, writing down each number. Take the numbers you rolled and find the number that corresponds with the dice-index password list and write down the word next to it. For example, if I rolled 1-1-5-2-1, I would write down “akron” from the dice-index password list. Repeat steps 1 and 2 a total of 6 to 7 times for a super secure password.

    • LastPass: Once you have your super secure password, the next step you can take is to set up an account with LastPass, which is a password manager. With LastPass, you will be able to make sure that you have individual and unusual passwords for all the sites you use, and you will use your super secure password (the one you made with the diceware method) to log in and out of LastPass.

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