Modern-day communication technology is one of the most advanced and influential inventionsto affect humanity.
However, it does have a dark side.
Even if we’re careful, the open nature of the internet could result in you becoming a victim of cyberstalking.
This crime refers to the use of the internet or other electronic modes to intimidate, frighten, or harass a group or person. Common elements between cyberstalking cases include monitoring somebody’s physical location, online activity, publicly posting false accusations, or identity theft.
Cyberstalkers might use instant messages, email, or phone calls to stalk their target victim. Thankfully, professional IT consultancy services from firms like Mustard IT can help keep this menace away, and keep yourself – and your business – free from harm.
Here’s how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Don’t Share Personal Information
Online platforms have various uses. For instance, you might be using them to promote your brand or yourself. While doing so, you might be (intentionally or unintentionally) disclosing your whereabouts – all it takes is a photograph with recognizable elements, and a malicious person with time on their hands.
While decreasing your online presence may not be an option, you can minimize cyberstalking risks by being careful about revealing personal information.
You want to avoid sharing your contact, location, or address on such platforms. Being careless about these details can result in verbal harassment, and in more serious cases, extortion or great personal risk.
You might want to avoid sharing your real name on social media platforms, particularly on messaging dashboards and forums. Stick to using company or anonymous personas, and only discuss personal details with trusted users on a secure network.
Change Passwords Frequently
Don’t underestimate the impact of a distinct password. Stalkers have various techniques of trying to hack into victims’ accounts, and passwords are typically your first line of defense. That’s why they must be strong and distinct.
Avoid using personal information like your birthday or place of birth when generating passwords. Experts further recommend frequently changing passwords. You can do this once per month or every three months.
It’s recommended for you to 1) set a reminder for password changes and 2) generate passwords using phrases that you can remember easily, and are unlikely to be guessed by others.
Also, take your password length into account – increasing length by just a few characters can result in passwords that are exponentially harder to generate for malicious users.
A standard 12-character password, for example, takes 72 trillion times more computing time to guess than a 6-character one. If a hacker’s computer took 1 second to guess every possible 6-character combination, the 12-character set would take a staggering 2 million years to guess!
For extra protection, capitalize on your social media, email provider, or bank’s two-factor authentication (2FA). In this case, if somebody has your password, they would need to enter a PIN and you’ll receive an alert regarding the attempt to access your account.
Finally, don’t write your passwords on paper or share them with strangers.
Conceal Your IP Address
Numerous services and applications disclose your IP address to the one you’re communicating with. While this might seem trivial, this information has a direct relationship with your data, and is the first bit of info a seasoned cyberstalker aims for.
For instance, your IP is associated with the internet bill you receive at home and your credit card transactions. This meansthat cyberstalkers can use your IP address to locate your physical address and credit card information – not something you want anyone to know without your consent.
Fortunately, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide your IP address. The service works to mask your actual IP address and replace it with your preferred location. This way, you’ll seem like you’re in a different country, and a cyberstalkerwon’t be able to determine any of the data you’re transmitting or receiving.
Keeping your software updated might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to cyberstalking prevention. However, it might surprise you to know that regular updates are vital when it comes to the prevention of information leaks. New forms of spyware show up every single week, and the first line of defense tends to be our inbuilt security software.
Cybersecurity teams work tirelessly to patch security susceptibilities and help ensure that your data remains safe. They’re particularly important for mobile devices – a compromised mobile phone can let cyberstalkers snoop in on your private conversations, access your data, and even determine your GPS location.
Fortunately, automatic updating schedules have made this process a breeze – just make sure to enable them.
Search Your Name Regularly on the Internet
You might not be posting information regarding yourself, but you can’t stop friends from posting your photos and other information concerning you.
Protect your identity and name by performing a regular internet search. Doing this will help you prevent a stalker from spreading false information about you whether through a webpage or blog – this can be quite helpful if you have a public persona for your personal projects or work.
Preventing this requires just a bit of proactivity on your part, but reversing a PR disaster caused by a malicious cyberstalker can be much harder.
Upon stumbling on false information regarding yourself online, you can contact the server or website administrator to request content removal, as well as possibly identifying the person misusing your identity.