Cyberstalking – the who, what, and how

stalkCyberstalking is the term used to describe a situation where an attacker harasses a victim using electronic communication.

Unfortunately, this communication can come through e-mail, text messaging, social media, websites, or any other electronic form of communication. It’s important to note that cyberstalking is different than just ordinary spam messages because it targets a specific victim, often with threatening messages.

In conjunction with National Data Privacy Day (January 28th) and National Stalking Awareness Month, below you will find tips to consider to keep you and your family safe.

The Indiana Cybersecurity Website

The Indiana Cybersecurity website is intended to be a central hub of information for Hoosiers to find resources and more information about how to stay informed and safe from these ever-growing cyber threats.

For more information follow the url below: http://www.in.gov/cybersecurity

The Risks of Cyberstalking

With the dramatic increase in electronic communication forms, cyberstalking has become easier and easier for criminals. Beyond the discomfort and emotional distress caused by cyberstalking, below is a list of risks that you need to be aware of.

  • Having your contact details obtained and used
  • Identity theft
  • Impersonation of you to stalk others
  • Being discredited in social media and other platforms
  • Location and tracking of you by GPS on mobiles, tracker devices or spyware on phones
  • Stalking or harassment of your relatives, friends or colleagues
  • Threats
  • Use of your image
  • Others being provoked to attack you
  • Escalation to physical violence
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Cyberstalking Prevention

Fortunately, you CAN protect yourself from cyberstalking with a number of steps and be prepared to combat anything that may happen.

  1. Don’t send or receive private emails or messages when connected to a public Wi-Fi as they are notoriously unsafe.
  2. Use a VPN because it helps to protect your personal information and keeps you anonymous online. Not sure where to get started with VPNs? Here’s a list of VPNs for security and privacy.
  3. Install a top-notch antivirus software on your devices.
  4. Be careful of what you upload on social media. Don’t provide personal information that would make it easy for a cyber-stalker to do his thing.
  5. Use strong, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication for thwarting access to your personal information.
  6. Don’t upload photos on social media that show your location.
  7. Phishing emails are still a major threat online so it’s extremely important that you avoid them. Use these tips to spot phishing emails and stay clear of them.
  8. Review privacy settings on all your social media accounts as carefully as possible to ensure your information remains protected.

Have you been a victim of Cyberstalking?

  • Print out any harassing emails (along with full email header).
  • Print out and save any harassing instant messages and private messages.
  • Save any harassing text messages (don’t delete them).
  • Note dates and times of all harassment on paper.
  • Keep any harassing and threatening letters and make copies of letters.
  • Keep any harassing and threatening voice-mail messages and phone numbers (don’t delete them).
  • Save and print out any harassing messages or defamatory messages about you on social networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
  • If applicable, write down and bookmark the username and profile URL of person harassing you via social networking website(s).

**Be proactive and take action by filing a report with your local law enforcement agent or file a complaint to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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