What is Doxxing in Crypto and Why Should you Care?

Published: 20th August, 2023 | Last Updated: 19th October, 2023

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

Doxxing, short for “dropping dox or documents,” is a term frequently used in the crypto world to describe the act of revealing and publicizing an individual’s personal information without their consent.

This potentially sensitive information can include details such as their real name, home address, contact information, or even their financial data.

In crypto specifically, it can also mean that someone’s public wallet address has been connected to their name. As a result, their transactions are available to the public.

Doxxing is often carried out in order to cause harm, embarrassment, or harassment to the victim, and it can have severe consequences for both individuals and communities within the cryptocurrency realm.

As many crypto founders, social influencers, and developers chose to remain anonymous you will often come across the term. You will hear phrases like ” oh the founder of so and so got doxxed”. Or “They doxxed xyz . Guess who he really is”

what is doxxing in crypto

Understanding the Concept of Doxxing in Cryptocurrency

Doxxing has emerged as a significant concern within the crypto world due to the potential impact it can have on the safety and security of participants.

In this digital landscape, where anonymity and privacy are often valued, the unauthorized disclosure of personal information can lead to targeted attacks, identity theft, financial fraud, and even physical harm.

With the increasing popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrencies, the risk of becoming a victim of doxxing has amplified.

Doxxing and crypto transactions

One of the main reasons why doxxing is particularly concerning in the cryptocurrency space is the irreversible nature of transactions.

Once you make a transaction, it goes on the blockchain, which is a public ledger accessible to anyone.

If a person’s personal information is exposed through doxxing, it becomes easier for malicious actors to track their transactions and potentially link them to their real-world identity.

This can have serious consequences, as it compromises the privacy and security that cryptocurrencies aim to provide.

Furthermore, the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies can make it challenging to hold perpetrators accountable for doxxing incidents.

Since there is no central authority governing cryptocurrencies, it can be difficult to trace and identify those responsible for the unauthorized disclosure of personal information.

This lack of accountability can create a sense of vulnerability among participants, discouraging them from fully engaging in the crypto space and hindering its potential for widespread adoption.

The Rising Concern: Doxxing in the Crypto World

As the crypto space continues to evolve and gain mainstream recognition, the threat of doxxing has become more prevalent.

The exposure of personal information of individuals involved in the cryptocurrency community can have serious consequences.

This includes potential extortion attempts, blackmail, online harassment, and stalking.

Moreover, individuals who hold significant amounts of cryptocurrency may become targets for scammers or hackers seeking to exploit their wealth.

Thus, understanding the risks associated with doxxing and taking appropriate measures to protect one’s identity and personal information has become crucial.

Doxxing crypto transactions

One of the reasons why doxxing has become a growing concern in the crypto world is the pseudonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions. While blockchain technology ensures transparency and security, it also means you can trace transactions back to individuals once you reveal their identities. This makes it easier for malicious actors to target specific individuals and track their financial activities.

Remember, transactions in crypto are pseudonymous, not anonymous. There is a public address that links all your transactions. Only you have the private keys to that address but anyone can see your public address.

It’s like how you have the private keys to your house but anyone can know your public address. The difference with crypto is that your house in crypto is transparent. Anyone can peer into it if they know which one is your house.

a crypto address is like a glass house
A crypto address is like a glass house. Anyone can look inside if they know the address.

Furthermore, the decentralized nature of the crypto space makes it challenging to regulate and enforce laws against doxxing.

Unlike traditional financial institutions, there is no central authority that can intervene and protect individuals from someone exposing their personal information.

This lack of oversight creates a fertile ground for doxxing attacks to occur without consequences for the perpetrators.

Exploring the Dark Side: Unveiling Doxxing in the Cryptocurrency Community

Doxxing within the crypto community often stems from various motivations.

Some perpetrators use it as a means of retaliation, attempting to harm those with whom they have personal or ideological differences.

Others perform doxxing for financial gain, targeting individuals known to possess substantial cryptocurrency holdings.

In addition, there are instances people use doxxing as a tool for social engineering or manipulating public sentiment. By exposing private information, attackers can attempt to coerce victims or exploit their vulnerabilities. 

One common form of doxxing in the cryptocurrency community is known as “swatting.” This involves the malicious act of falsely reporting a serious crime, such as a hostage situation or bomb threat, to law enforcement, with the intention of having a SWAT team dispatched to the victim’s location.

Swatting not only puts the victim’s life at risk but also wastes valuable resources and can lead to legal consequences for the perpetrator.

Another disturbing trend in the crypto community is the use of doxxing to silence or intimidate individuals who express dissenting opinions or criticize certain projects or figures.

This form of doxxing is often accompanied by online harassment, including threats, hate speech, and attempts to damage the victim’s reputation.

Such tactics create a toxic environment that stifles open dialogue and discourages constructive criticism within the cryptocurrency space.

Protecting Your Identity: How to Safeguard Against Doxxing in Crypto

In order to protect oneself against doxxing attacks in the cryptocurrency world, there are several preventive measures that individuals can adopt.

  • Firstly, maintaining a high level of online privacy is crucial. This can involve using pseudonyms or usernames instead of real names, being cautious about sharing personal information on public forums or social media platforms and limiting the exposure of financial data.
  • Additionally, enabling strong security measures, such as two-factor authentication and encryption, can enhance the overall protection of personal information.
  • Furthermore, it is important to be aware of phishing attempts and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown files. Phishing attacks can be used to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials or private keys, which can then be used for doxxing purposes.
  • Use a VPN. Use Virtual Private Networks)to protect your online identity and browsing activities, be cautious of sharing personal information in private conversations or public forums, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unverified files.

The Anatomy of Doxxing: How it Works in the Cryptocurrency Space

Doxxing attacks in the cryptocurrency space can occur through various methods and channels.

Below are some common techniques

  • Hacking into personal accounts or databases
  • Leveraging social engineering tactics to gather private information
  • Performing extensive research to uncover an individual’s online footprint.

Identification of weak points in an individual’s digital presence, such as poorly secured social media accounts or reused credentials, can make them more susceptible to doxxing attempts.

Understanding the intricacies of how doxxing attacks are carried out can empower individuals to better protect themselves against such threats.

One method of doxxing in the cryptocurrency space involves exploiting vulnerabilities in blockchain technology.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies, is designed to be transparent and immutable. However, if an attacker gains access to an individual’s wallet address, they can link these transactions to the person’s identity.

This can be done by analyzing patterns, IP addresses, or by connecting the dots through various online platforms.

Legal Implications: Is Doxxing Illegal in the Cryptocurrency Realm?

The legal boundaries surrounding doxxing in the cryptocurrency realm can be complex, varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

While some acts of doxxing may infringe upon existing laws related to privacy, cybercrime, and harassment, the applicability and enforcement of these laws can differ significantly.

It is essential for individuals to familiarize themselves with the legal framework in their respective jurisdictions

If necessary seek legal advice, and report instances of doxxing to relevant authorities.

Famous doxxing cases in crypto

The most famous case of someone getting doxxed in crypto is that of Omar Dhanani.

Omar Dhanani was a convicted criminal for credit card fraud who CO-founded Quadriga CX. Quadriga itself is surrounded by a cloud of mystery as the CEO died under mysterious circumstances in India.

Omar chose to become anonymous under the name of 0xSifu on Twitter. He then became the treasury manager of a cryptocurrency called Wonderland.

Under this pseudonym, he managed more than $700 million in treasury assets. At some point a crypto Twitter user called Zachxbt announced that he had doxxed 0xSifu as Omar Dhanani.

A lot of drama ensued as the users of Wonderland were not at all happy, to say the least. Looking back some see this as the catalyst for the crypto industry to crash in 2022.

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Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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