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Don’t let cyber stalkers “follow” you online!

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about cyber-bullying, but cyber stalking can be just as serious and even dangerous. What is cyber stalking? Cyber stalking is a form of harassment where a stalker engages in persistent, unwanted, often obsessive behavior through online media such as instant messaging, email, and mobile technology.

Cyber Stalking Facts

Cyber stalking often seems innocent or harmless in the early stages, because it is usually perpetrated by someone you know. Behavior such as “checking up” on you using technology or getting in contact constantly throughout the day can often be misunderstood at first as a way of expressing ordinary concern.

However, the behavior soon escalates and becomes harassing, demeaning, or terrorizing. Stalking behavior often becomes increasingly erratic and extreme as the victim rejects it and seeks protection. Although these activities might only be a violation of a company’s Terms of Service at first, they can quickly escalate into criminal behavior.

Cyber stalking is usually perpetrated by someone you know:

– An estranged boyfriend or girlfriend.

– Someone from your social circle.

– A former or current co-worker or boss.

The Dangers of Cyber Stalking

You can recognize this form of stalking because it makes you feel fearful or endangered and it takes place entirely or mostly through online media. Stalkers can keep tabs on their intended victim and attack them through vicious and mean-spirited behavior on social media or instant messages. This is intended to bring the victim under the stalker’s control.

In extreme cases, cyber stalking can lead to serious consequences in real life, including violent confrontations, identity theft, and much more. Because of this, it’s important to take action as quickly as possible when you feel that someone’s behavior has crossed the line, especially if they are engaging in a pattern of antagonism that affects your work or family.

Staying Safe From Cyber Stalkers: How to Report Cyber Stalking

The source of cyber stalking behavior is as complex as face-to-face stalking, but the important thing to remember is that the victim is never at fault. It’s important to know how to report cyber stalking and what to do to protect yourself.

Online stalking is always a violation of the Terms of Service of Internet service providers, software providers, and others whose hard work and resources are used to facilitate these acts. You can contact the stalker’s internet service provider to report stalking behavior, and can also make a report with the police in your area.

It’s usually hard to prevent someone from accessing a social media network or instant messaging platform by reporting them to those companies. It is so easy to create a new online identity that such reports are always usually helpful. Lodge your complaint directly with the person’s Internet or mobile phone provider and follow up with the authorities.

Although Internet service providers have a lot of information on what goes on in their networks, your evidence will always be helpful. Learn how to save chat logs and emails. The “print screen” button on most standard Windows keyboards allows you to take a screen shot of what’s on your monitor at any time, which you can “paste” into a paint program and save.

Cyber Stalking Facts On Protecting Yourself

Online stalking can involve “hacking” or damaging your accounts or personal property in order to keep your activities under surveillance. For that reason, it’s important to understand that avoiding the stalker online by changing software accounts or passwords may not be enough. You should also take steps to keep your computer physically secure.

– Ensure that no one has access to your computer or mobile device outside of your presence.

– Log completely out of all software applications and websites whenever you leave the computer.

– Make sure all Internet-enabled devices use a password-protected screen saver to reduce access.

– Search social networks to find and remove private information about yourself where possible.

– Delete online calendars and be careful using mobile “check in” apps that show your location.

– If you believe your computer is compromised, use public terminals and phones to contact help.

Now that you understand more about cyber stalking you can take steps to guard yourself. Anyone with an online presence has a chance of encountering stalking behavior. One pillar of your defense is using a program like Norton 360 to defend against compromised websites, files, and other nefarious ways that a determined stalker can try to pry into your life.

To learn more, visit the National Institute of Justice or Wired Safety.