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You Might Think Cyber Stalking Will Never Affect You…Here are 7 Tips To Ensure It Doesn’t

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Disappointedly, it wasn’t until November 2012 that stalking became a criminal offence in England and Wales. Quite incredible (obviously, for the wrong reasons). Over a third of women now report having been stalked or threatened online [1] and unfortunately, over 80% of cyber stalking victims are women [2].

What is Cyber Stalking?

Cyber stalking is the harassment of someone via online means, such as e-mail, instant messaging, phone calls, social media and blogs. Much like cyber bullying, the reason why cyber stalking is particularly potent is because of the anonymity that the internet can allow stalkers. Cyber stalking is usually about trying to manipulate, control and harass the victim. Common characteristics include false accusations, monitoring of your activities online, threats, social media hijacking, use of spyware on your devices, online intimidation, tracking of your location, identity theft and changing your data online.

Worryingly, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno found cyberstalking was often "a prelude to more serious behaviour, including physical violence". Much like physical stalking, victims of cyber talking can be subject to permanently damaging mental, physical and emotional turmoil as a result of the harassment they are subjected to.

Things We Can Do To Limit Our Risk

There are a number of actions we can take to ensure that we limit the likelihood of being a victim;

1. Plug the Leak

As we have already addressed what personal information is already publicly available (in chapter Over-Sharing), you need to ensure you don’t exacerbate the problem by continuing to leak personal data onto the web. Visit Privacy Settings in the basic plan of www.simplecyberlife.com here to lock down your privacy settings to ensure you’re not unwittingly over-sharing online.

2. Limit your online footprint

Cyberstalkers obsess over the information that is available online about their target. It enables them. Now we’ve plugged our leaks in the previous step, read this blog post on the steps to take to reduce your online footprint. Following these steps will reduce the amount of ‘oxygen’ a cyberstalker has to feed off.

3. Install a Password Manager

Many cyberstalkers actually steal our account credentials so that they can silently eavesdrop on everything that we do. It also allows them to impersonate us by sending messages and posts from our own accounts without our knowledge. This is often used as an intimidation tactic. Use a password manager (discussed in the basic plan of SimpleCyberLife.com here) to ensure we have secure passphrases that are stored securely.

4. Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware

Ensure that your computer and mobile devices (where applicable) have updated anti-virus and antispyware software installed. Run scans to ensure everything is clean.

5. Home WiFi Security

Lock down your home WiFi box to ensure that all devices connected to the internet at home have a secure connection to through. A determined stalker may have planted a device to eavesdrop your home WiFi internet traffic for example. Go to WiFi Box Security Settings here to find out how to configure settings to ensure your router’s security.

6. Use a VPN When Out-and-About

Use a VPN like Bitdefender VPN or get yourself a portable WiFi hotspot like the D-Link DIR-510L portable router so you can have a secure connection when away from home. This way, you never have to worry about sending emails or private information when using public WiFi.

7. Shred Documents

Many cyberstalkers have been known to physically rummage through their victim’s rubbish to gather information on them. Get a cross-cut shredder like the Fellowes Powershred M-8C 8 Sheet Cross Cut Personal Shredder and follow the guidance here on what needs to be shredded.

By following these simple guidelines, we can significantly reduce the risk to use falling victim to cyber stalking.

Are You Being Stalked?

If you suspect you are being cyber stalked, you must call the police immediately. Call the emergency number 999 if you feel you are in imminent danger or the non-emergency number 101 if not.

 

References;

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/11/what-the-law-can-and-cant-do-about-online-harassment/382638/

[2] http://www.wiredsafety.org/cyberstalking_harassment/context.html

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