- 1 What is Cyberstalking?
- 2 How Cyberstalking Affects People
- 3 Anti-Cyberstalking Tips
- 3.1 Keep a low profile
- 3.2 Search your name online or your family member
- 3.3 Update your software
- 3.4 Log out of the computer
- 3.5 Delete or make private any online calendars or itineraries
- 3.6 Adjust your privacy settings
- 3.7 Hide your IP address
- 3.8 Avoid disclosing sensitive information
- 3.9 Two-factor authentication (2FA)
- 4 What to Do in Case You are Being Cyberstalked?
- 5 Examples of Cyberstalking
What is Cyberstalking?
In the real world, stalking is unwanted obsessive attention to a specific person. It can involve secret surveillance, persistent and manipulative calling and texting, and other means of approaching the victim unexpectedly.
Cyberstalking is simply online stalking. Cyberstalkers primarily rely on online technology to do it. It involves the repeated use of the internet or other electronic means to harass, intimidate, or frighten a person or group.
It can take in the form of sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, false accusations, posting derogatory statements, monitoring someone’s online activity or physical location, threats, identity theft, or unwelcome attention to your life and your family’s activities.
Cyberstalking is common — at least 40% of adults report experiencing some harassment online, including stalking, with the majority of targets being women.
How Cyberstalking Affects People
Cyberstalking can be frightening even more than physical stalking. Victims of cyberstalking suffer more fear and take more actions to protect themselves over time than those who are stalked in the physical world.
Cyberstalking can destroy friendships, credit, careers, self-image, and confidence. Ultimately it can lead the victim into far greater physical danger when combined with real-world stalking.
Keep a low profile
Keeping a quiet online existence is tough for some people, especially those who need to use online platforms for self-promotion or business-related activities. However, many users could benefit from toning things down a little.
You should always avoid posting personal details such as your address and phone number and think carefully about revealing real-time information such as where you are and who you’re with.
Avoid using your full name in online profiles. While this is difficult for anything work-related like LinkedIn profiles, it’s entirely achievable for things like forums, and some social media accounts. For example, you can use a nickname on Instagram or Twitter.
Search your name online or your family member
See what information is available about you and your family online. Search on social networks and be sure to remove anything that should be private and inappropriate.
Update your software
Is there even a reason for this? Well, surprise, yes! A regular software update is crucial when it comes to preventing cybercriminals from accessing your computer. Many upgrades are developed to patch security vulnerabilities and help ensure your information remains safe.
Log out of the computer
Be sure you always log out of your computer programs when you step away from the computer and use a screensaver with a password. The same goes for passwords on cell phones.
Delete or make private any online calendars or itineraries
Hide the list of events you are planning to attend.
Adjust your privacy settings
Use the privacy settings in all your online accounts to limit your online sharing with those outside your trusted circle. You can use these settings to opt-out of having your profile appear when someone searches for your name. You can block people from seeing your posts and photos, too. Adjusting privacy settings is one of the first steps you can take to “clean up” your accounts. Most social media platforms and some other types of online accounts will let you adjust who can see your profile and contact you.
Hide your IP address
Mask your IP address by using a Virtual Private Network. This hides your real IP address and replaces it with from a location of your choice, so you could even appear to be in a different country. It also encrypts all of your internet traffic, keeping it safe from the prying eyes of hackers.
Avoid disclosing sensitive information
Surprisingly, many people regularly share personal information about themselves, even outside of social media platforms. By filling out questionnaires or submitting applications for coupons, you are increasing the likelihood of someone getting their hand on your personal data and possibly making cyberstalking more accessible.
Two-factor authentication (2FA)
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible to get an extra layer of security. This way, even if someone gets ahold of your credentials, they won’t be able to hack your account.
What to Do in Case You are Being Cyberstalked?
1 – Block the person
Block anyone who you wish to stop hearing from, even if these messages are just annoying and not yet threatening. Set your boundary, and when someone passes them, immediately block them.
2- Call the police
If you believe their behavior is illegal or you fear for your safety, then you should contact the police and report the cyberstalker. Even if you don’t have enough information or evidence for them to sue immediately, the report will go on record, and the police can offer advice about what to do if the offender continues.
3- Report the person
If someone is harassing or threatening you, you should keep a copy of any message or online image that could serve as proof, block them immediately and report them right away. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other platforms have created easy-to-use buttons to report abusive behavior quickly.
Examples of Cyberstalking
Catfishing happens on social media sites when online stalkers create fake user profiles and approach their victims as a friend of a friend or expressing romantic interest. To look more like a real person, cyberstalkers sometimes copy the profiles of existing users, imitating their identities.
Google Maps Street View
If a cyberstalker discovers their victim’s home address, all they have to do is open Google Maps and type it in. By using Street View, they can see exactly how your home looks without even stepping into your neighborhood and drawing attention.
Cyberstalkers can also virtually research your environment, surrounding houses, cameras, and alleys, to get a sense about the neighbors.
Controlling your webcam
Hijacking a computer’s webcam is one of the creepiest methods cyberstalkers use to invade their victims’ privacy.
Cyberstalkers would try to trick you into downloading and installing a malware-infected file (phishing) that would grant them access to your webcam.
Internet stalkers love geotags – and for a good reason. Every digital picture you take may contain geotags, which are pieces of metadata revealing where and when the photo was taken.
Geotags come in the EXIF format, which is embedded into an image file and can be extracted and viewed with the help of special apps. This way, a cyberstalker can learn about your whereabouts.
When carried out rationally and securely, communication through social networks and other online public forums can be beneficial, both socially and professionally. However, if you’re not careful, it can lead to numerous unwanted consequences, one of which is cyberstalking.
Follow our tips to ensure that you won’t be a cyberstalking victim.
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