Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is the use of the internet to stalk someone. Learn about cyberstalking and how to protect yourself from this serious crime.

Step 1:Recognize

Red Flags of Cyberstalking

There are a number of warning signs that may indicate that someone is being cyberstalked. These can include:

  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Changes in mood or behavior, such as appearing more withdrawn or irritable
  • Avoiding certain places or people
  • Suddenly becoming uninterested in hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stealthy use of technology, including trying to access devices when they shouldn’t or trying to cover their tracks on the internet
  • Changes in grades or school performance, especially if they used to be high but have now begun to drop
  • Unusual physical complaints, such as headaches and stomach aches that don’t seem linked to any other illness

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you have been a victim of cyberstalking, it is important to take action right away. Here are some steps to take:

  • If you or someone you know is currently in danger from cyberbullying, harassment or stalking, call 911. Don’t wait!
  • Immediately report any threats of violence, child pornography, unauthorized sexually explicit messages or photos, or photos/videos taken in private places to local law enforcement.
  • Stop all communication with the stalker, it’s important to not respond.
  • Stalkers are looking for a reaction. Block the person from your phone, email, and/or social media accounts.
  • Seek support from a trusted friend, family member or a professional counselor.
  • Keep a record of the dates, times, people involved and descriptions of when the stalking occurred.
  • Save and print screenshots, emails and text messages as evidence.
  • Report the behavior, with the details, to the website or platform where the stalking took place.

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including cyberstalking, is imperative to help others avoid being bullied or harassed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

If you or someone you know is currently in danger from cyberbullying, harassment or stalking, call 911. Don’t wait!

Step 4:Recover

Protect Yourself for the Future

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations and you are on the road to recovery, it is time to reinforce your cybersecurity by implementing preventative measures.

  1. Have open dialogue with your loved ones about what happened and what to do if it occurs again in the future.
  2. Create a technology safety plan for yourself.
  3. Improve your online security by updating your privacy settings to restrict others from viewing your photos, locations and updates.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

It’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Create Strong Passphrases: A strong passphrase is a string of unrelated words separated by hyphen, space, period, capitalized first letter or number. Use passphrases that are longer than 15 characters and include multiple words that do not have any obvious connection between them. The key to passphrases is randomness. Don’t repeat your passphrases between accounts and consider using a password manager to help you remember.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

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Without Fightcybercrime.org, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN

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