Cyberstalking: What is it & What Can You Do?
Cyberstalking is defined as online stalking. It involves the repeated use of the internet or other electronic means to harass, intimidate or frighten a person or group. Common characteristics of cyberstalking may include false accusations or posting derogatory statements, monitoring someone’s online activity or physical location, threats, identity theft, and data destruction or manipulation by sending a virus to a victim’s devices. Cyberstalkers may use email, instant messages, phone calls, and other technology
to stalk you. Cyberstalking can take the form of sexual harassment, inappropriate contact, or unwelcome attention to your life and to your family’s activities.
You might hear people use the term “stalking” to describe following someone’s activities via their social media. That’s different, and usually doesn’t involve harassment or criminal activity. In contrast, cyberstalking can be a serious crime with legal implications.
Tips to avoid cyberstalking/what to do if it's happening to you:
Do not use passwords that are easy to guess. Never use identifying information such as your name, address, birthdates, pet names, etc. in your password. Use a combination of letters, symbols and numbers to make it impossible to guess your password. Never share your password with anyone including people who claim to be from your Internet service provider, bank customer service, or other online service.
Use a free e-mail account such as Hotmail or Gmail for all your online activity such as social media, chat rooms, IMs, e-mails from strangers, filling out forms, etc. And use a gender-neutral username and mail address.
Do not give your primary e-mail address to anyone you do not directly know or trust. Tell anyone who does have your address not to include it in group e-mails.
Limit or avoid the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram. If you do use them, don't put identifying info in your profile. Use the security features to allow only known friends and associates access to your profile and tell your friends that you do not want them posting any pictures or info about you on their profiles.
Only use computers that you trust are secure and make sure that all operating system and application security updates have been applied. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software running and that it’s current.
Trust your instincts. If you suspect an abusive person knows too much, it is possible that your phone, computer or e-mail have been tampered with and your activity may be monitored.
Disable the GPS functionality on your smartphone.
Plan for safety. Stalking can be very dangerous, even if it is over the Internet and the stalker is not trying to contact you directly. Talk to someone who can help you create a plan to protect yourself.
Save and document everything. Even if you're not sure about calling the police, log all incidents. Write down the time, date and place of each contact. If you get harassing messages by e-mail, don't delete them. Save them and print off a copy of each message for your records as well. Save all threatening or harassing text messages or voice messages received on your cellphone. If you make a report to police or if you decide to apply for an Emergency Protection Order, this can be used as evidence.
Conversations on cordless phones can sometimes be picked up by radio scanners that allow eavesdropping. Whenever possible, avoid using cordless phones for sensitive conversations. It's illegal in Canada to intercept your phone calls without your permission. If you know this is happening, report it to the police.
If you think the person stalking you may have access to your e-mail, start another private account that includes no personally identifiable information in your user name. Make sure you use a secure password. Do not use this address for any social network contacts such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
It is helpful to know what info about you is available on the Internet so do a search for your name. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo may have links to your contact information.
Report computer harassment to your Internet service provider as well as the Internet service provider of the person harassing you.
Taken from Govt of Canada Website post Oct, 2019.