Cybersecurity often dictates protecting your data and assets from harm. But what happens when the need arises to protect yourself from harm?
A form of cyberbullying known as “cyberstalking” is becoming a topic of discussion as of late. This type of stalking entails using technology in an effort to persecute and threaten someone. Stalking behaviors can be subject to criminal action as they generally cause psychological damage to stalking victims.
An example of this could be someone on social media finding your personal address and visiting your house, finding your phone number and calling at odd hours of the day, or repeatedly messaging you on Facebook. This person doesn’t have to be a stranger either– it could be a former friend or work acquaintance who’s intent on keeping tabs on you.
Thus far, only a few countries have proper legislation on this type of behavior. The UK, Poland, Australia, India and some US states have laid out consequences for this type of internet crime. The general lack of laws, however, can make it confusing to dictate what exactly cyberstalking entails. To add to this, minimal consequences means someone who’s harassing you is more likely to get away without suffering any legal repercussions.
What can you do to protect yourself from a cyberstalker? The first thing would be to limit your online persona, and refrain from posting personal or sensitive information on all types of social media. Privatizing profiles and managing who has access to your photos, videos and location can help minimize your risk. Oftentimes, however, a stalker can manage to find enough information to make your life harder.
A solid way to combat someone of this nature is to refrain from engaging them in conversation. Added to that, make sure you document and screenshot everything this person sends to you. If they start harassing you offline, make sure to record their activity in case you need to escalate things to law enforcement. It’s also wise to discuss the behavior with family and friends, because a stalker may reach out to those close to you with false information or request information about your whereabouts.
If this person is or was close to you at one time, consider changing your passwords. This will help prevent them from entering any accounts you use. An ex-partner could easily damage your reputation via social media or transfer money from a bank account in order to blackmail you into complying with their desires.
While lawsuits and restraining orders are your last resort, it’s important to protect yourself. A damaged reputation and loss of privacy from a cyberstalker, not to mention the psychological damage, can be devastating to anyone. By practicing good cyber-hygiene and staying aware of your online presence, you can potentially save yourself from having to engage further with someone who would do you harm.
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