The Internet has made it easier to find someone. Nowadays, social media, blogs, and vlogs give total strangers a glimpse into our lives. It feels innocent, but it could take a dangerous turn. Everyone should take care to prevent cyberstalking to protect their families. In this article, we’ll talk about how to stop cyberstalking before it starts.
What is cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is using the Internet or other digital means to stalk or harass someone else. It can include posting fake accusations, defaming them online, monitoring their movements, threatening them, or even copying their identity online. In extreme cases, cyberstalkers may even post private information online and encourage others to join in their harassment, known as doxing. Protecting yourself from cyberstalking can prevent this treatment.
How can I prevent cyberstalking?
So, how can you stop someone from cyberstalking you? The good news is that you can avoid cyberstalking by following good cybersecurity hygiene and a few good practices for online safety.
Don’t put too much information (or opinions) out there
Arguing with strangers on the Internet might seem innocent, but cyberstalking often starts with a harmless exchange on social media. Keeping a low profile is key to cyberstalking prevention. Avoid sharing too much information online if you need to be in the public domain. Don’t reveal your address or phone number.
If you need to voice controversial opinions online, try to use a nickname and avatar instead of your normal profile picture and name. If you are online dating, limit your means of communication to the site’s messaging service until you’ve gotten to know the person better. Look out for red flags in communication, e.g., if the person starts bombarding you with messages. Make sure that you speak to your children about online safety as well. Kids are particularly vulnerable in an age where Instagram followers are considered valuable currency. They must understand how to protect themselves if they post information on social media.
Update your software and change passwords regularly
It doesn’t seem like something that could prevent cyberstalking, but ensuring that your email accounts are safe is an excellent way of preventing your sensitive information from leaking to scammers or other parties that may harass you or steal your identity. Antivirus updates are designed to fix critical security flaws, so don’t ignore them. Always make sure to change your passwords regularly and don’t share passwords across sites. You could even go as far as to disguise your IP address with a VPN to ensure that cyberstalkers can’t hone in on your private home address.
Maintain good digital practices
Make sure to adjust your privacy settings on your social media account. Where possible, control who can see your profile and contact you. Keep your timelines, feeds, and messages free from negative comments by disabling comments – this will prevent others from piling on and adding to the abuse (and will prevent psychological harm to you as well).
If you use public computers, always ensure that you log out correctly and that your passwords aren’t stored. If your cellphone or laptop is lost, immediately change all of your passwords and report the issue to the police and various websites. Change and update your email address to log into social media if necessary. Always make sure that you use the maximum security settings, e.g., three-factor authentication.
Never publicly share any information that could be used to locate you, including location sharing services, the name of your workplace or school, or address. Don’t post about your daily routine, e.g., “I always stop at the coffee shop next to my work at 8 am”. It could give the cyberstalker room to follow you.
Cyberstalking is a menace, but the good news is that you can prevent cyberstalking by maintaining good digital practices and limiting what you share about yourself online. Remember to proceed with caution when interacting with strangers, even on social media.