Cyberstalking is a grave crime, and no one wishes to become a victim. Cyberstalking is shared at least 40% of adults report experiencing some harassment online, including stalking, with the majority of victims being women.
Technology makes cyberstalking possible. Technology is opening our lives up in numerous ways. You can communicate with someone whether they’re in the next room or in other countries easily, through a variety of devices. You can access the utmost of the world’s information within a snap of your fingers.
We put so much information online that it has become effortless for someone to stalk you online. Your interests, the events you attend, the places you visit, your workplace, email, bank details, and even your phone number can be found a bit in the dig.
Keeping your information private on the Internet is one way to protect yourself. Same as using a VPN when using public wifi, which will protect your data from unwanted snoopers and encrypt your online activity. That is just a start. There’s a lot more to know about it and how cyberstalking works and how to guard you against it.
Same as the technology that provides lightning-fast communication, it also offers a way for cyberstalkers to commit crimes. Let’s see how to recognize it, avoid it, and what to do if you find yourself on the creeper radar.
Below is the information that will help you with how to completely understand cyberstalking and tips on how to protect yourself.
What is Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is referred to as online stalking. It involves the frequent use of the Internet or other electronic means to intimidate, frighten, or harass an individual or group.
Typical features of cyberstalking may include false accusations or posting derogatory statements, monitoring a person’s online or physical location, threats, identity theft, and data breaches, or sending and transmitting a virus to the victim’s devices.
In the real world, stalking is an unwelcome obsession with a particular person. The physical stalk may indicate secret tracking, continuous and manipulative calling and texting, and other ways of approaching the victim unexpectedly.
In the digital world, cyberstalks are driven by the same desire – to humiliate, threaten, or abuse their victims. However, they rely primarily on online technology to do so. Instant messaging, social networks, email, personal data that are available online – everything on the Internet can be used by cyberstalkers to make inappropriate contact with their victims.
Cyberstalking is a cruel way because Cyberstalkers can use email, instant messages, phone calls, and other modes of communication to interrupt you. Cyberstalking can be the form of sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, or unpleasant attention in your life and your family events.
It consists of bad intentions, from false allegations and offenses to sexual harassment, and even boosting others to deal with the victim. In many cases, physical and digital stalking are linked; it makes them even more dangerous.
Social media stalking is not Cyberstalking
You can hear people using the word “stalk” to describe following a person’s activities through their social media accounts. That is different and usually does not involve abuse or criminal activity. In contrast, cyberstalking can be a severe crime with legal implications.
Examples of Cyberstalking
1. Catfishing – is when stalkers create fake profiles and introduce themselves to a victim as a friend or express romantic interest. It usually occurs on social media sites. The cyberstalker copies the profile of an existing user and impersonates the identity to look more legit the profile is.
If you doubt you’re being catfished, these guidelines can help you classify a fake user:
- Look at the friends’ list. Catfishers often have more than 100 friends.
- Save the profile picture and run an image search on Google. If you get links to many profiles, it’s a warning sign of fake accounts.
- Evaluate the user’s photos. If there are only selfies or cartoon images, it is likely they aren’t real.
- It is suggested to make a video call and see how the person responds. If he started making excuses, you might suspect you were talking to a catfisher.
2. Monitoring location check-ins on social media – If you add location check-ins to your Facebook and Instagram posts. You make it easy for a cyberstalker to track you by simply scrolling through your social media profiles. When joined, location-tagged posts can specify your behavior patterns correctly.
3. Virtual visit via Google Maps Street View – when the cyberstalker sees the home address of the victim. They can tell precisely how your house looks, even without stepping into your area. They can sort out this with Google Maps by using Street View.
Cyberstalkers can also effectively study your environment, nearby houses, cameras, and paths to get a sense of the neighbors. For a tech-savvy stalker, they can quickly figure it out by analyzing the photo you posted and using the Street view to trace where it has taken.
4. Hijacking your webcam – It is one of the disturbing techniques of cyberstalkers. By hijacking the webcam, they can easily invade the victims’ privacy.
They will try to fake you by downloading and installing a malware-infected file that will help them access your webcam.
The process is so good you will probably never suspect anything strange. The thought of someone secretly watching you through your webcam will give you a shiver.
5. Installing stalker was – Stalkerware is the progressively popular and alarming method that criminals use to keep checking on their victims.
It is any kind of genuine software or spyware that can be used to monitor a person’s activities over their device. It can track your place, create audio recordings, and allow access to your texts and browsing history.
What’s terrifying about a stalker is that it is intended to run in the background without your awareness.
6. Geotags to track your location – Internet stalkers love geotags and for a good reason.
Each digital photo you take may contain geotags, which are pieces of metadata that tell where and when the photo was taken. Geotags come in EXIF format, are set in an image file, and can be retrieved and seen with the help of unique apps. This way, a cyberstalker can find out about your whereabouts.
Protect yourself from Cyberstalkers
As fearsome as cyberstalking is, there are few methods you can look after your privacy online.
Below are the useful tips for avoiding becoming a victim.
- Check your privacy settings on social media sites. Make sure that you’re not oversharing. Change your settings so only folks from your friends’ list can view your photos, keep posted, and have personal info. Avoid accepting unfamiliar people to your social media networks.
- Turn off geotagging to get rid of location-disclosing metadata from your photos.
- Provide secure and unique passwords for your accounts and don’t share them with any person.
- Allow two-factor authentication (2FA) which likely gets an extra layer of security. This way, even if someone knows your account information, they won’t be able to hack your account.
- Cyberstalkers can abuse the poor security of public Wi-Fi networks to sneak into your online movement. For that reason, avoid sending private emails or sharing your complex information when connected to unsafe public Wi-Fi. Or you can use a VPN, which will encrypt your online activity and protect your private data from unwanted snoopers.
- Check how much data can find about yourself online – or your “Googleability.” If you realize that there’s too much a cyberstalker could discover about you by just searching on Google, try to take down some information.
- Don’t open mistrustful messages, and don’t click on unidentified links or files. They probably contain malware that will infect your devices. Installing an antivirus is also a good step in securing yourself from digital dangers.
- When you are on online dating sites, do not give your last name or phone number until after you saw in person.
- Don’t reply to a private message on any social media sites if you do not recognize the sender.
- Limit the capacity of people other than friends to post or browse on your wall, set this in security settings.
- Block anyone who shows suspicious behavior on social media platforms.
What about Cyberstalking laws?
As cyberstalking is a form of emotional attack, laws governing aggravation and libel can be applied to electronic communications. However, this practice is often tricky because confrontations in cyberspace are different from realistic situations.
Although some countries apply older laws, others have enacted specific cyberstalking statutes. These laws are entirely new and still need improvement.
How to report Cyberstalking
Even if cyberstalking laws are not yet perfect; you must still consider reporting it to the authorities.
The first thing to see is that you will likely have to make available documentation. If a Cyberstalker is attacking you through email, messaging apps, or any other electronic means, keep the records. Save copies and take screenshots as evidence.
Report them on the platform where the harassment occurred. It may take some time, but most websites and apps have strict rules against such abuse. Then, stop the attacker and never engage with them, no matter how tempting.
On a Final Note
Cyberstalking is dangerous to damages privacy. Do not share your password with anyone. Always be discreet about your personal information and personal activities. Step-up your personal security settings on social media accounts and also on your devices to keep you safe from cyberstalker.
What do you think about cyberstalking? Share your knowledge and opinions with us by dropping a comment below.