Stalking is following someone's activity against their own will. As we are spending more time online and also increase in online activity has made people vulnerable to Cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking is the way of using electronic communication particularly Internet including Blogs, Facebook, Twitter constituting social media, phone calls, emails, text messages to threaten, harass, pursue or steal victim's sensitive information because of the personal grudge that might arise because of revenge, jealousy, anger, and hatred etc. Cyberstalkers are commonly known to the victim and could be a former colleague, friend or spouse. Occasionally Cyberstalkers can be strangers also, could be fans of some celebrities or famous personalities in the society.
Not surprisingly, women are the most frequent victims of Cyberstalking. They accounted for 63% of victims, whereas men accounted for 37%. However, studies show that this is changing slightly.
Cyberstalking is very bad and is considered to be the most dangerous category of Internet harassment which should be prevented. If already stalked by someone, it should be handled properly because it is more like mental torture which causes a victim to go through a cycle of depression, loss of self-confidence and even develop suicidal tendency.
The life cycle of cyber stalker is depicted as shown below:
A Cyberstalker acts out of anger or a need to control or gain revenge over another person through threats, fear, and intimidation.
There are several forms of Cyberstalking, including:
Dogpiling - Occurs when a person says something on social media and others don't agree with it and this could lead to an argument which helps stalker to provoke and gather information about the victim.
Doxing - Anonymously publishing personal information about another person maliciously, could be sensitive information.
Swatting - This generally happens after an online game where the loser gets upset with the winner.
Catfishing - Impersonate the victim on social media by hacking into their accounts and then sending messages and post content
Physical violence - The Cyberstalker will threaten physical violence, and in some cases death, towards the victim online or via text and phone calls. These threats can also spread to include harm against relatives and friends of the victim.
The measures to prevent cyber stalking are depicted as shown below:
Do's when someone is Cyberstalked
- To start with, just report it - Most of the social media websites are now giving luxury to users with the help of advanced tools to better communicate their feelings and alleviate the concerns and conflicts that arise with feeling bullied on the web. Earlier, they had complicated Report features. Now, users can simply click "This post is a problem" to report harmful material, whether it is textual or an image. This feature reaches outside the norm of reporting or flagging material as inappropriate due to nudity or profane visual content.
- There are many websites which can be referred when you feel that you are cyber stalked or even if you feel insecure about the situation, connectsafely.org, wiredsafety.org, and quitstalkingme.com etc.
- Save everything. Do not delete any emails or text messages because they may contain routing information that can help law enforcement determine the sender.
- Immediately change your passwords and PIN numbers because email addresses are often used by abusers and stalkers to impersonate their victims or cause harm to them.
- If you find a website that is focused on harassing you, it may violate local harassment laws. Furthermore, becoming familiar with search engines such as www.whois.net can assist you in determining the owner of any malicious website. Again, assistance can be found with your local police department or victim advocacy group.
Authored By - Suryabhargav R
TCS CYber Security Practice