“Cyberstalking: What is it and how to prevent it.” (From our Forums.)
Text originally published by Samuel Gichichi on the Cyber Secure Central Forums.
The advancement in technology has completely changed our lives and given us opportunities that were not available in the recent past. A lot of children do not understand the journey towards the realization of modern items like smartphones and the availability of GPS for direction and ease of navigation. Today, people can communicate conveniently through different technologies in spite of their geographical locations. However, despite the benefits brought by technology, some people are always using it with wrong intentions.
What is cyberstalking?
In simple terms cyberstalking is online stalking. It is the use of technology to harass someone via the internet. One can be harassed through threats, data destruction or manipulation, identity theft, and false accusations. Sexual exploitation of minors also falls under cyberstalking.
Online harassment can take many forms, but the bottom line is it’s offensive, illegal and often obsessive. Cyberstalkers use different tools like phone calls, email, messaging and other modes of communication to stalk someone whether it takes the form of inappropriate contact, sexual harassment or annoying attention to get into their life and/or family’s activities.
Cyberstalking is often orchestrated by someone you know. The individual could be a former friend, colleague, ex-lover or someone who wants to disturb you and your kin inappropriately.
How cyberstalking harms
Cyberstalking can lead to the destruction of credits, careers, friendships, confidence, and self-image. Eventually, it can lead to more profound physical damage when combined with real-world stalking. Many victims of domestic violence are victims of cyberstalking. Like everyone else, these victims need to know that cyberstalking is made so easy by technology. One of the ways used by cyberstalkers to monitor their target’s online activity is the use of spyware. It gives them the power to control or steal the information they get and use it to disturb you.
1. Always manage your passwords carefully. Never disclose your password to anyone or use a weak password. Also, you should change your passwords regularly to discontinue anyone who might have gained unauthorized access to your social network accounts.
2. Be vigilant on who has physical access to your digital devices. Cyberstalkers sometimes use software and hardware devices attached to your computer to accomplish their mission.
3. You should either delete or make your online events private. Stalkers can use the information you provide to monitor your plans.
4. After using a particular digital device, ensure you log out. If you use a screen saver, make sure it is password protected to prevent access to your applications.
5. To ensure information is only shared to your trusted circle of friends, you should make use of privacy settings in various social network platforms. These settings should also be used to prevent someone you are not familiar with from accessing your information.
6. To safeguard the privacy of kids, you should regularly contact an online search for their names. From the search results, you should remove every inappropriate information.
7. Since some cyberstalkers use spyware to monitor your activities, it is advisable to keep your anti-malware updated and any other software you have in your device.
8. If you suspect someone is spying you, and you feel endangered, use public telephones and computers to seek help. If you use the same device with the spyware, the cyberstalker may know your plans leaving you in greater danger.
Educate your children
The war on cyberstalking can only be won if every targeted party has the requisite information to protect themselves. You should always tell your kids not to disclose any of their personal information such as real name, phone number, address or school online, regardless of how safe they think they are. Your children should inform you as soon as a stranger contacts them via any method. Also, encourage your kids to tell you about anyone cyberstalking them. Such cases should be forwarded to the relevant authorities.
Report the case
If someone is cyberstalking you, make a copy of any image or message that could act as proof. You should also educate your kids on how to capture such evidence. Do not hesitate to report any case of stalking to the police. Cyberstalking is a crime covered in Cybercrime units in many police departments.
The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of Cyber Secure Central. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article lies entirely with the author(s).