Cyber stalking basically is online stalking. It has been defined as the use of technology, particularly the Internet, to harass someone. Common characteristics include false accusations, monitoring, threats, identity theft, and also data destruction or manipulation. Cyber stalking also includes exploitation of minors; it can be sexual or otherwise.
The harassment can take on many forms, but the common conclusion is that it’s unwanted, often obsessive, and usually illegal. Cyber stalkers use email, instant messages, phone calls, and other communication devices to stalk, whether it takes the form of sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, or just plain annoying attention to your life and your family’s activities.
Kids use the term “stalking” to describe following someone’s activities via their social network. These days children accuse the parents of being their “stalker” for keeping tabs on their digital lives. It’s important that we not devalue the serious nature of the crime of cyber stalking by using the term incorrectly. A recent television commercial for a major cellular provider depicts a young woman spying on her crush through his bedroom window while she monitors his online activities on her cell phone. While it’s meant to be a humorous ad, it’s extremely unsettling when stalking occurs in the real world.
Interestingly, this same ad points to an important fact about cyber stalking; it is often perpetrated not by strangers, but by someone you know. It could be an ex, a former friend, or just someone who wants to bother you and your family in an inappropriate way.
Tips and Tricks to safeguard yourself using cyber security
- Maintain over physical access to your computer and other Web-enabled devices like cell phones. Cyber stalkers use software and hardware devices (sometimes attached to the back of your PC without you even knowing) 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.
- Make sure to practice good password management and security. Never share your passwords with others. And be sure to change your passwords frequently! This is very important.
- Delete or make private any online calendars or itineraries–even on your social network–where you list events you plan to attend. They could let a stalker know where you’re planning to be and when.