One concern that has been on the minds of most people is “how to stop cyberstalking;” particularly those that have been victims of such attacks. Due to the advancement in technology, cyberstalking is becoming more rampant. Technology has opened our lives in several ways. You can now use smart devices to easily chat with someone – whether they are in the next room or in a different time zone.
When done sensibly and securely, communication through online devices can be beneficial, both professionally and socially. But this same technology that makes it possible for people to quickly communicate also offers an avenue for cyberstalkers to commit crimes if you’re not careful. It can result in several undesirable consequences, such as cyberstalking.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: What is Cyberstalking?
Simply put, cyberstalking is online stalking. It involves the regular use of electronic means to intimidate, harass, or scare a person or group.
Cyberstalking could involve posting derogatory statements or false accusations, monitoring the online activity or physical location of a person, identity theft, threats, and data manipulation by sending a virus to the computer of a victim.
Cyberstalkers may make use of phone calls, email, instant messages, and other forms of communication to stalk a victim. Cyberstalking can be as sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, or unwanted attention to your activities. In most cases, cyberstalking is planned and sustained over a period.
This crime doesn’t have to do with direct communication, and some victims may not even know they are being stalked. Cyberstalkers can monitor victims through various methods and use the information obtained for crimes. Attackers can gather personal information, contact friends, and try to harass you.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: Who is Behind Cyberstalking?
In most instances, cyberstalkers know their victims. For some people, regular messages from loved ones or work colleagues are welcome, although often distracting and sometimes annoying.
But receiving intrusive messages from someone you’re not familiar with or close with can be termed cyberstalking. The motives behind such messages could be lust, anger, revenge, or control.
Plenty of cyberstalking cases have to do with someone trying to get the attention of a former or would-be lover. While some people may accept this behavior and even see it as being romantic, if the communication is undesirable, it is considered harassment.
Other cases of cyberstalking, especially those that have to do with famous or high-profile individuals, might be carried out by total strangers. Some stalkers suffer from mental health problems and even believe their action is welcomed.
Cyberstalking isn’t always done by one person; it might involve a group of people. They could be targeting a person, a group, or a company for various reasons, such as opposing beliefs or financial benefits.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: 3 Examples of Cyberstalking in 2020
1. Law school rejection
This case happened in Delaware involving an attorney, called Ho Ka Terence Yung, being victimized by a rejected interviewee. He carried out launched an attack on the victim, who was an alumni interviewer at a law school that rejected him.
Yung harassed the victim and family members for 18 months. He attributed violent, racist, and sadistic posts to the victim and his family, and accused him of sexual harassment and child molestation. He even went further to hir prostitutes to go to the house of the victim.
2. Cyberstalking in Hyderabad
More than 70 incidents of cyberstalking have been carried out in the city ever since the lockdown was announced earlier this year. Those cases have increased, compared to other incidents of fraud.
3. Relatives of Parkland victims
As if the relatives of the school shooting in Parkland hadn’t gone through enough traumas, most of them were cyberstalked by Brandon Fleury. He admitted he sent threatening messages to families of some of the kids killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
He made various fake Instagram accounts and used them to harass the relatives of victims. Fleury was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2020.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: How to Prevent Cyberstalking
Even though there’s no single solution to cyberstalking, there are some options that you can take to make your security stronger.
- Don’t share sensitive information:
Surprisingly, a lot of people regularly disclose personal information, even outside social media platforms. When you fill-out questionnaires or submit applications for coupons, you’re increasing the chances of a stalker getting your data.
- Reset your passwords:
If you notice strange activity in any of your account, reset your password and make it difficult to guess.
- Privacy settings:
Check your privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure that the present settings are right for you.
- Regularly keep your software updated:
This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ways to prevent cyberstalking. But regular software updates are important when it comes to preventing leakage of information. Most software updates are created to fix security vulnerabilities and help your information remains safe.
- Hide your IP address when using public Wi-Fi:
A lot of services and applications show your IP address to the person you’re communicating with. This may not seem vital, but this information is directly linked to your data. For instance, your IP address is connected to the internet bill that is sent to your location and which you pay with your credit card. Cyberstalkers use your IP address to find your current address and credit card details.
- Avoid suspicious emails and messages:
A cyberstalker might use some methods that have to do with sending dangerous messages and emails that don’t immediately seem malicious. The email could appear like it’s from a reputable sender when it’s just phishing for personal information such as login and credit card details.
- Use antivirus software:
If a cyberstalker attempts to install malware on your device, your first line of defense is strong antivirus software. This will notice and block all malicious programs before they can find their way to the device. It can also detect malware that has already been installed in your system, allowing you to remove it.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: What to do when you get Stalked
- Trust your instincts: If you feel uncomfortable, shut the situation down. Remove yourself from the scene.
- Don’t delete: Keep all digital evidence; even though it may feel better to delete it, it’s safer to have evidence in case things get out of hand. You can make a backup of the evidence and store it on a different device.
- Block the person: Apply all measures permitted by law, particularly those given by web services. If you can, block anyone you don’t want to hear from, even if their messages are only annoying and not threatening.
- Call the police: If the situation feels life-threatening, go to the police.
- Report to the platform involved: If someone is stalking you, immediately report their actions to the platform involved. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on, have made it easy to report abusive behavior.
How to Stop Cyberstalking: Conclusion
In today’s ever-evolving and digital technical world, the internet has become a means to stalk individuals and groups. You need to learn how to protect yourself and know of this evolving threat. If you encounter cyberstalking and it appears serious, or you feel threatened, report to the appropriate authorities.