What is Cyberstalking?

Safalta Expert Published by: Aryan Rana Updated Sun, 11 Sep 2022 11:20 PM IST

Highlights

Cyberstalking is a cybercrime in which a victim is stalked or harassed online. It can be viewed as a progression from both in-person stalking and online bullying. It often appears in the form of continuous, purposeful, and methodical text messages, emails, social media posts, and other forms of communication.

The problem of cyber stalking is getting worse. Online harassment has been a problem for 40% of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center. While women are the majority of cyberstalking victims, 20 to 40% of victims are men. In the contemporary online environment, Cyberstalking is a common occurrence. Today, we'll go into detail about this area of the internet and speak about how one may cope with or completely avoid cyberstalking, which is now regarded as a serious crime.
 

What is Cyberstalking?


Cyberstalking is a sort of cybercrime in which a victim is stalked or harassed online. It can be viewed as a progression from both in-person stalking and online bullying. However, it often appears in the form of continuous, purposeful, and methodical text messages, emails, social media posts, and other forms of communication.

Sometimes encounters that seem innocent at first turn into bothersome or frightening systematic cyberstalking. Even though some people find the initial stage of cyberstalking amusing and harmless, it ceases to be entertaining when the interactions continue even after the target has indicated their annoyance and requested that they stopped.

Frequently inappropriate and upsetting content is addressed towards the victims. A cyberstalker may frighten a target by sending messages from various accounts multiple times per day.

Cyberstalking does not always include face-to-face contact, and some victims may not even be aware that they are being followed online.

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Numerous techniques can be employed to keep tabs on the victims, and the data acquired may then be utilised to commit crimes like identity theft. Some stalkers even contact the victims' acquaintances and continue their harassment offline.

Tracking whereabouts, violating data privacy, keeping tabs on both online and offline activity, obsessively keeping track of the victims' whereabouts, frightening victims, etc. are some frequent aspects of cyberstalking behaviour. Sending threatening private messages or fabricating images are two examples of social media stalking.

Cyberstalkers frequently disseminate nasty rumours, fabricate social media identities and blogs, or produce and distribute retaliation porn.

There may be a misconception that cyberstalking is less severe than physical stalking because it doesn't entail physical contact. In any event, this is untrue. The internet is now a crucial component of everything we do, whether it be personally or professionally. Along with expanded access to personal information, this has only made communication easier.
 

Examples of Cyberstalking


Cyberstalkers ridicule, torment, control, and intimidate their victims using a range of strategies and methods. Many cyberstalkers are both technologically astute and inventive in their approaches. Here are some instances of possible cyberstalking:
  • Making unpleasant, sexually explicit, or rude remarks online
  • Sending the victim obscene, vulgar, or threatening emails or communications
  • Registering with the victim's groups and forums
  • Revealing private details about the victim online
  • Using tracking devices to monitor the victim's whole online activity
  • Using technology to intimidate or extort the victim
  • Overtly mentioning the victim in unrelated posts
  • Interacting with every internet posting the victim has made
  • Making phoney social media accounts to track the victim
  • Posting or disseminating images of the victim, whether genuine or fraudulent
  • Giving the victim a lot of graphic images of oneself
  • Creating bogus posts to humiliate the victim
  • Texting the victim repeatedly
  • Internet accounts of the victim are hacked
  • Attempting to obtain the victim's graphic images for ransom
  • Sending the recipient unwelcome presents or objects
  • Use hacking tools to discreetly record the target via their laptop or smartphone's camera
  • Harassing someone despite requests to cease


Repercussions of cyberstalking


Similar to traditional stalking, cyberstalking can have negative effects on the victims' physical and emotional health. In addition to other health problems, victims of online harassment can feel fear, anger, bewilderment, and insomnia. The general well-being of victims of cyberstalking is impacted. They frequently experience PTSD, sadness, anxiety, anguish, and suicidal thoughts.

It is crucial that you seek assistance if you are a victim of cyberstalking. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, you can call a loved one, visit a mental health professional, get legal advice, or even report the stalker to the police.
 

Difference between Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying


Here, you will learn what cyberstalking and cyberbullying are as well as how they differ from one another.

For the sake of retaliation, rage, or control, the victim may be stalked online via instant messaging, social media, discussion boards, and other online communication tools. A stalker could be a total stranger or someone the victim knows.

Cyberbullying mostly refers to when a youngster, preteen, or teen is harassed, humiliated, tortured, intimidated, embarrassed, or targeted by another person in their age group using the internet, interactive and digital technologies, or electronic devices. It is referred to as cyber harassment or cyberstalking if adults are engaged.

Cyberbullying occurs on a regular, aggressive, and intentional basis. It might be as basic as pestering someone or sending them emails or texts on a regular basis. Aspects of cyberbullying include:
  • Threatens in public repeatedly
  • Hate speech, derogatory terms, or malicious charges
  • Sexual slurs
  • Collaborating to humiliate a victim in internet forums and chats
  • Putting false information about a victim on websites after breaking into or vandalising them in an effort to defame or humiliate them
  • Identifying criminal victims directly and disseminating material that is intended to harshly discredit or humiliate them
  • Spreading false information about the target online to persuade others to disapprove of them or join in with their online slander


Types of Cyberstalking


Let's examine the numerous types of common cyberstalking.
  • Catfishing is the process of approaching victims on social media by creating phoney profiles or replicating ones that already exist.
  • Monitoring social media check-ins: Keeping an eye on a victim's online activity to precisely determine their typical behaviour.
  • Using Google Maps and Street View to spy on a target and determine their position based on posts or images on social media.
  • Webcam hijacking: Webcams can be taken over by downloading malicious files onto the victim's PC.
  • Putting in stalker were: Stalkerware monitors the victim's whereabouts allows access to their texts and browsing history, records audio, etc. without their knowledge.
  • Geotagging for location tracking: If a digital image is in the metadata format, it is typically geotagged with the time and location of the image. This makes it simpler for stalkers to retrieve that information using specialised programmes.


The Legal Consequences of Cyberstalking


When it comes to global data on sexual harassment, India tops the list. Women are subjected to harassment in the physical world as well as online. According to a Feminism survey, 50% of women in India's largest cities have experienced internet abuse. Nowadays, cyberstalking of men is also on the rise, making the ratio about 50:50.

A few examples of cyberstalking legislation in India are as follows:
  • It is illegal to stalk someone in any way. An act of stalking can include persistently following, contacting, or attempting to contact a person despite their blatant lack of interest, keeping tabs on their online activities, or spying on them in a way that raises concerns about violence, causes serious alarm, disturbs their mental peace, or otherwise causes them distress.
  • Defamation claims against the offender may be made by the victim.
  • Stalking committed by a person with state permission for the aim of identifying and preventing crime is not considered to be unlawful.
  • Legal penalties for online sexual harassment include up to three years in prison and/or a fine.
  • The unlawful taking and/or dissemination of photographs showing a woman indulging in private conduct is criminal by law.
  • Criminal intimidation is considered to be a chargeable offence when it is used against someone who has had their reputation damaged in an effort to induce concern or convince them to change their course of action.
  • Someone can be punished if they are subjected to ongoing verbal harassment based on their gender.
  • Any unlawful intimidation through secret messaging or retaliatory publishing of content featuring rape victims is illegal and subject to imprisonment.
 

How should We respond to cyberstalking?


Acting quickly is essential if you or someone you know is a victim of cyberstalking. The following is how you can handle it:
  • Inform the cyberstalker in writing that you do not wish to be contacted by them and that, if they continue, you will inform the police.
  • After a warning is given, avoid any contact with the stalker at all costs.
  • If the harassment does not end, contact the police.
  • Use a friend's or family member's phone to call for assistance if you believe spyware is being used to follow you.
  • Check your devices for spyware and indications of hacked accounts.
  • Switch out all passwords.
  • Block the user from your social media accounts using privacy settings, and notify the network of the abuse.
  • To avoid reading them, filter offensive emails into another folder.
  • Contact [email protected] or [email protected] if you are aware of the stalker's ISP, which is the part that comes after the @ in their email address.
  • Google has a help system set up for such situations at https://support.google.com/mail/contact/abuse
  • If you notice any online stalkers at work, let your employer know.
  • Ensure that you have copies of any relevant communications, police reports, and network emails.
  • On an external drive, make a backup of the evidence.


How can you stop cyberstalking?


You should first increase your privacy settings to stop cyberstalking. Enable strict privacy protections
  • All posts should only be visible to friends to prevent public seeing.
  • Don't allow social networks to display your contact information publicly.
  • For social networking and other online activities, try to have a different email address.
  • Instead of posting private material online, send pals a private message.
  • Instead of using your real name on social media, employ a gender-neutral screen name or pseudonym.
  • In social media profiles, leave all optional fields blank.
  • Accept friend requests only from people you actually know.
  • You can configure your social network settings to only accept friend requests from people you know.
  • Disable your device's GPS and geolocation features.

Take down all online personal information. To get some of the data removed, you might need to contact third-party websites. Use a post office box or office address rather than your home address if you require a postal address for business purposes. The best security precaution is to simply use your first name when submitting your name online.

Regardless of how logical the request may seem, be wary of calls or emails that want personal information. Verify with the headquarters or branch listed on your documentation in the event that you receive calls from banks or credit card firms.

If your smartphone is hacked, protecting your data won't assist you. Make sure your online life is secure to avoid cyberstalking.
  • Due to its vulnerability to hacking, use public Wi-Fi with caution.
  • Your IP address and other information can be hidden by using a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Avoid leaving your devices lying about carelessly since someone can use the chance to install malware.
  • Password protection and frequent updates should be used on all devices.
  • use anti-spyware
  • When finished online, always log off.
  • Apps that request access to your contacts list or Facebook should be avoided.







 

Is the act of cyber stalking illegal?

It's illegal to stalk someone online. There are two parties involved in cyberstalking: first, the attacker, also known as the stalker, who commits the crime, and second, the victim who is the target of the stalker's harassment. As a form of online crime, cyberstalking is also known.

What is cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is the practise of unwelcome and persistent online communication. Any number of incidents, such as threats, libel, slander, sexual harassment, or other attempts to intimidate or control their victim, may be involved.

Who are the targets of cyberstalking?

Males and females can both be targets of cyberstalking, however, victims are most likely to be females between the ages of 18 and 30.

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