A woman with brunette hair sitting at a desk with a off-white laptop, and writing in a notebook. She is wearing a gray sweater and writing in the notebook with a gray pen. Her mobile phone is sitting on one half of the notebook.

A woman taking notes in a notebook, with her laptop open next to her.

First, let’s define threat modeling, so you have some context.

Threat modeling is a way to help predict what can happen by looking at what happened in the past.

For victims of harassment, stalking or intimate partner violence, threat modeling & understanding your risk profile is how you identify, communicate and understand threats in order to mitigate and protect yourself or another victim/survivor/person.

Identifying Your Threat Model

Understanding context with threat modeling & risk profiling is key to knowing what types of threats you’ll face.

The type of work you’re doing can impact your threat model significantly, especially if you’re involved with organizing & activism work, you are a journalist, or a public figure. Each situation will require slightly different threat modeling, preparation, and planning.

Another factor to consider when evaluating threats is your identity.

Things to consider with your identity might include, race, economic security, gender or sexual orientation, age, immigration status.

Some people will identify as more than one group and be especially vulnerable to threats & harassment due to those factors.

Severity of Threats

There are different types of threats to take into consideration to help you with threat modeling and to minimize the risks to you.

Potential threats of physical harm, or death threats are high severity threats and all of them, whether online or offline should be taken very seriously. Document any threats, put them in a timeline and report them to law enforcement, if it is safe to do so in your situation.

Sometimes your circumstances may not allow for official reporting, especially if the person threatening you is in law enforcement. In this case, document the threats, and keep them for possible future court cases or evidence.

Other types of possible threats to you might include:

  • The offender threatening to harm you, themselves, harm others, or harm your children.
  • Threats to release intimate photos of you if you don’t comply with their demands.
  • Publicizing private information (doxxing).
  • Trolling or flooding your email, direct messages, and social media, preventing you from using your socials or doing your work.
  • Harmful direct messages to your personal accounts.
  • Cruel comments or posts on social media about you, your family & friends.
  • Damage to physical property or your home.
  • Finding you in public to force a confrontation.

Search for Yourself Online

Why do you search for yourself on line you ask?

First-of-all, you want to know what an attacker or offender could find to target you.

Next, start making a list of things you’d like to remove from the search results, and keep in mind that some information cannot be removed.

Consider places your private information might be located, beyond Google searches. If you own a home or have property records, those are public.

In some states, licensing records are public, especially if you’re a lawyer, therapist, social worker, nurse or someone with professional licenses.

Additionally, website registration records are public. You can purchase domain privacy (please do) when you buy a domain. Look up your domain privacy here: ICANN Lookup

Other records to consider that might be public, include some non-profit and business filings.

For example, if you are a registered agent for a business, that information is public in business filing paperwork with both the state, you can search records here https://www.llcuniversity.com/50-secretary-of-state-sos-business-entity-search/ and with the IRS.

In some states, voter registration records are publicly available.

Availability of voter registration records varies by state, you can find your state information here: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/access-to-and-use-of-voter-registration-lists.aspx

Final Thoughts

You can’t remove all information, especially public records, but the goal is to make it harder for harassers, stalkers, or your ex to find your information.

Threat modeling allows you to mitigate some of the fear that comes from harassment and threats, because what you know can help you in addressing safety concerns and planning.

If you’re ready to take proactive steps toward your privacy protection, our blog on People Searches & Data Opt Out is useful.

You can also book a consultation for more specific 1:1 guidance, unique to your situation here.

The guidance included in this article does not constitute legal advice and is for educational purposes only.