Cyberstalking is the repeated use of the internet or other electronic means to harass, intimidate or frighten a person or group. Common characteristics of cyberstalking may include false accusations or posting derogatory statements, monitoring someone’s online activity or physical location, threats, identity theft, and data destruction or manipulation by sending a virus to a victim’s devices.
Cyberstalkers may use email, instant messages, phone calls, and other communication modes to stalk you. Cyberstalking can take the form of sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, or unwelcome attention to your life and to your family’s activities.
How to Protect Yourself Against Cyberstalking
- Be careful about allowing physical access to your computer and other web-enabled devices like smartphones. Cyberstalkers can use software and hardware devices (sometimes attached to the back of your PC without you even knowing it) to monitor their victims.
- Be sure you always log out of your computer programs when you step away from the computer and use a screensaver with a password. The same goes for passwords on cell phones. Help your family and kids to develop the same good habits.
- Make sure to practice good password management and online account security. Create complex passwords and never share them with others. And be sure to change your passwords frequently. A password manager can help with this task.
- Delete or make private any online calendars or itineraries — even on your social network — where you list events you plan to attend. That information could allow a cyberstalker to know where and when you’re planning to be somewhere.
- A lot of personal information is often displayed on social networks, such as your name, date of birth, where you work, and where you live. Use the privacy settings in all your online accounts to limit your online sharing with those outside your trusted circle. You can use these settings to opt out of having your profile appear when someone searches for your name. You can block people from seeing your posts and photos, too.
- If you post photos online via social networks or other methods, be sure to turn off the location services metadata in the photo. The metadata reveals a lot of information about the photo — where and when it was taken, what device it was taken on, and other private information. Most often, metadata comes from photos taken on a mobile phone. You can turn this off — it’s usually a feature called geo-tagging — in your phone’s settings.
- Use a security software program such as NortonTM 360 with LifeLockTM to help prevent spyware from being installed onto your computer via a phishing attack or an infected web page. Security software could allow you to detect spyware on your device and decrease your chances of being cyberstalked.
- If you break up with someone that you were in a relationship with, be sure to change all of your online passwords. Even if you think that your ex-partner may not know them, it’s a good practice and an extra layer of protection.