Cyberstalking is the use of electronic media to intimidate and isolate a victim. It’s a growing concern as social media has become an integral part of society. Unfortunately, there are many avenues an attacker can use to manipulate and distress a victim.
Bringing a cyber stalker to justice can be tricky. Many cyberstalkers are tech-savvy enough to hide their identity. Read on to learn how to prevent and bring cyberstalking charges to law enforcement.
What can I do against cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking can escalate quickly from catfishing, using fake online identities to contact or harass you, to installing stalkerware.
Stalkerware is spyware on your devices that tracks, intercepts, or forwards your online communications. Stalkers have even been known to hack home cameras and devices with cameras.
Here are 9 steps to take against cyberstalking that you can start today.
#1 – Adjust Privacy Settings
Go through every social media account and email and adjust your privacy settings. Comb through your friends lists and delete and block all unknown, deactivated, or suspicious contacts.
Change all public settings to “friends only” and diminish your public social media presence. Many platforms offer an option to view your public profile and see which posts are still shared.
#2 – Do Not Accept Unknown Friends
It may seem easier to protect your garden from birds than to protect your social media circle, but you can take simple steps. Be careful whose friend requests you accept. If you don’t know a person, think twice before adding them online.
Often, a stalker can create a duplicate account, posing as a friend you already have. Ask friends before accepting second requests from them.
#3 – Use Multifactor Authentication
Plenty of online platforms have adopted multifactor authentication (MFA) security options for good reason. One of the easiest ways to use MFA is using an app. Each platform has a preferred method of MFA, so log in to your security settings and set it up for each application.
#4 – Use a VPN
Internet service providers know a lot about you. Unfortunately, what they know, your stalker can know. Using a virtual private network (VPN) protects your location and makes it harder for stalkers to track your internet traffic.
Be aware that using a VPN usually comes with a price tag and may slow your internet use because it adds steps to your usual internet use.
#5 – Do Not Give In To Demands
If a cyberstalker makes contact and starts making demands stand your ground. Do not give in to their requests, no matter what they threaten.
If you’ve seen some movies, you may be familiar with the phrase “don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Do not negotiate with cyberstalkers. If they make threats document the threat and contact law enforcement.
#6 – Do Not Click on Links
Only click on links after viewing the entire web address first. Often spyware and malware can even come from “friends.” By hovering over a link (without clicking it), you can verify whether or not the site seems legitimate.
Take this link, 5 Reasons to Visit Melbourne: the address begins with HTTPS, you can view the domain name, and it has a professional appearance. These are all good indicators that the link is legit.
#7 – Secure Your Cameras
If you have home cameras inside or outside your home, use Wi-Fi-protected access (WPA or WPA2) security, enable all camera firewalls, and use a strong password.
If you have devices in your home, cover the cameras when not in use. Use reusable stickers that will not damage the lens but also prevent the camera from recording when not in use. Cyberstalkers have been known to activate personal device cameras without the victim knowing it.
#8 – Inform Your Trusted Friends
The more people you tell about your predicament, the better. Cyberstalkers seek to isolate and intimidate, breaking down their victim’s emotional and mental stamina.
By appealing to your community, you will have more eyes to help monitor your online presence, and you can avoid feelings of isolation and desperation.
Keeping others in the loop also can help you build a stronger case with eyewitness accounts to verify attempts the stalker has made.
#9 – Take Your Case to Law Enforcement
Cyberstalking can be hard to prove and track down and can intersect with trolling or catfishing. You want to watch for a few distinctions to build a case against a cyberstalker.
Demonstrate that you have experienced considerable distress. Take notes on how you have changed your lifestyle out of fear and how invasive the stalking has become.
Document situations when you experience fear of injury or death. Take screenshots of violent encounters, and keep other evidence of threats against life and limb.
Whatever you do, be prepared for a cyberattack with a good perspective and support in place. Brush up on ways to protect yourself online, and make sure your family knows them as well. Be proactive and review your online security settings. Protect your house by covering cameras and enabling firewalls.
Keep open communication about online interactions with trusted family and friends. Keep a support network in place so that you don’t feel isolated or afraid.
Maria Hanson writes and researches for the legal and insurance information site FreeAdvice.com. She is passionate about the online threats facing this generation and is excited to spread hope and helpful information.