Protecting Your Family If You’re Targeted


Mar 15, 2024

Three Things Your Family Can Do

When harassment is escalating, what do you do or say to protect your family members? This is an especially challenging problem we hear from members when their family lives far away or aren't tech savvy.

All our data is interwoven with our relatives: their data exposure can easily impact you and visa versa. Do a quick google search and you’ll likely see not only your information but the home address, phone numbers, school and employment details of your relatives. Data brokers are responsible for publishing this data, but luckily you have rights to take it down.

There are plenty of stories about attacks escalating to family members. This tiktok influencer. This election worker. These are some of the most severe cases. With AI impersonation becoming more convincing, talking to your family members about risks is step one. And there are more resources through Kanary and beyond that can help you empower them to stay safe.

1. Know The Risks

Communicating sooner rather than later is more important than crafting the perfect message. Let them know you need to talk about something personal, important, and safety-related. Prioritize those closest to you since they will be the most likely targets for extortion (parents, siblings, spouse, children, grandparents). In most cases it will not escalate, but taking action now can help you be prepared in case it becomes more serious.

If you are concerned about someone spying on your messages, use Signal (they’ll need to download the app).

You can decide how much or little information to share with them, but they should know about the following ways things may escalate and what they can do to help:

  • Impersonation. Attackers may spoof your email, phone number, and even voice. They may contact your family and pretend to be you to either steal from them or manipulate them. Set up a safe word with your loved ones to use in any communication that feels urgent so they know it’s really you. Don't believe us? See cybersecurity expert, Rachel Tobac, voice clone a reporter and steal their passport number.

  • Stealing Accounts. If you have any public social media and are connected to your family members there, attackers can brute force their way into your accounts and steal your data and manipulate your community. If you do not have 2FA or a password manager set up to help you secure your social media, you and your family should set accounts to private, block any unknown friend or follower requests, and set strong passwords and 2FA on accounts. 1password is a great premium option, but the free password manager available in your browser is likely great too.

  • Spam. Attackers can create hundreds of fake phone numbers and accounts, and spam your loved ones. The best reaction is to block and never respond. Report any escalating cases of harassment to your cellphone company and request additional support.

  • Swatting. Attackers call in fake reports to the police that there is illegal activity (active shooter, bomb threat… etc) at your home. TallPoppy created an excellent guide on how to alert your local police department that you or your loved ones may be at risk of swatting.

  • Stalking. Advise your family members to take a digital detox and pause posting on social media. If that isn’t possible, let them know not to mention you by name and not to mention locations or post photos that reveal where you or they are located. Removing metadata from your photos can help you prevent leaking your location when posting.

  • Mental Health. In cases where users on social media are harassing you, ask your family to step in and help report harmful posts, comments, or DMs. If there is graphic or violent content being sent to you, your family member may be willing to step in to help you review and report the content. This helps you protect your mental health and avoid feeling isolated.

2. Join Kanary

We've built Kanary to be the most family friendly data removal service available. How? An account owner can add family members and manage removing their data from Google, data brokers, and other harmful sites. This requires 0 set up from your family to make it super fast. We’ve been doing this since day 1 because privacy is a team sport. You can start scrubbing their contact data from public sites to make them less doxxable, and less publicly connected to you.

If you’re already a Kanary member, you can add family members on your members page. Click ‘Add Member’.

If they want to set up and manage their own account instead of being on yours, you can share Kanary with them as a referral, you both get $23 off your subscription. You can access your referral code here to share. We also have free options in case they are price sensitive.

3. Tools & Helpful Experts

If you or your family’s employer provides health and safety benefits, you should ask your company to sponsor Kanary or TallPoppy to provide you with hands on help. For social media privacy settings help, we recommend BlockParty’s new privacy extension. For deleting past posts in bulk, we recommend Redact.

In serious cases of defamation, you should work with a local law firm familiar with your state’s legal code. They will be able to best assist you in working with law enforcement and the courts to take action against your attacker.

If you have a google account, you should take advantage of their free privacy and monitoring features like google alerts (set one up for your name or keywords related to your situation) and google’s results about you.

Our Team Is Here To Help

These are just the first things you should consider when helping your family stay safe. If you have a complex situation and need more support, reach out to us ([email protected]) or fill out our urgent request survey on typeform and we’ll follow up with more detailed advice.

If you’ve tried any of these recommendations and found they aren’t useful, we’d love to know that, learn why, and update this to be more helpful. Reach out any time ([email protected]).

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