Cyberstalking is the systematic harassment, intimidation, or stalking of a person, a group of persons, or a company using the Internet or other electronic means. Relatives, acquaintances, organizations, and outsiders can all become cyberstalkers.
Constant psychological pressure in the digital space can make a victim’s life unbearable. In some cases, offline harassment and even physical violence can accompany online stalking. Cyberstalking is a crime in many countries.
Cyberstalkers’ tactics and methods
Cyberstalking can take various forms, including:
- Sending threatening messages;
- Harassing, humiliating, or insulting the victim;
- Disseminating false information that could harm the victim’s reputation;
- Sending messages or ordering goods and services in the victim’s name;
Cyberstalkers can use the following methods to collect data about victims and track their activity:
- Online search;
- Hacking of a victim’s mail and other accounts;
- Viewing a victim’s posts on social networks and forums, and tracking when they go online;
- Asking a victim for information in personal messages;
- Using webcams, microphones, and other surveillance devices such as GPS beacons for vehicles (if they have access to the victim’s home or other property);
- Using spyware programs, such as stalkerware.
Protection against cyberstalking
Fully eliminating the risk of cyberstalking is almost impossible. Risk reduction methods include:
- Monitoring account and device security;
- Setting strict privacy controls on social networks and other Web resources;
- Digital footprint management and avoiding personal information in public posts;
- Granting minimum permissions to apps;
- Not sharing passwords and other confidential information, even with loved ones.