Cyberstalking is the act of stalking or harassing someone using the Internet or mobile phone
While the Internet enables people to connect globally with anyone without knowing their background or prior screening, it opens up opportunity for criminals to commit crime against people as in the real world. These include fraud and embezzlement, harassment, identity theft and stalking.
Since the technology today made available avenues for personal information to be posted by yourself or your friends online for personal or commercial reasons, criminal can find and use this information to his/her advantage.
This information allows the criminals to pretend to become someone they are not and become your friends online via chat rooms and social networking sites. The anonymity offered by the Internet provides new opportunities for stalkers, since a person’s online identity can be easily concealed through the use of different screen names or personal profile information. The fact that cyberstalking does not involve physical contact may lead to the misconception that it is less dangerous than ‘real life’ stalking. This online aspect makes it a more serious situation as it can easily lead to dangerous physical contact, once the victim’s location is known.
What can you do to avoid being a victim of Cyberstalking?
- Do not respond to threatening messages or messages that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Choose a genderless (e.g.Topbird) screen name and a name different from your real name.
- Do not complete the online profiles with your personal information. Limit the information posted on your profile.
- Be careful when you post picture of you, your family or your friends online. You can put yourself in trouble with stalker or your associates.
- Do not flirt online, unless you’re prepared to face the possible consequences. This is just like real life. By flirting you can get unwanted attention from unwanted suitors.
- Do not confront the stalker, this only creates more anger, hostility and/or emotional attacks.
- Get out of an online situation that has become hostile, log off or surf elsewhere.
- Do a web search on yourself to make sure no personal information is posted by others about you.
- Do not respond to any message that seems suspicious.
If you are a victim of Cyberstalking
- If you are under 18 years old, you should inform your parents or guardian whom you trust.
- Save any offending messages and inform the Police, MyCert or Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). You must keep copies of all communications (hard copy and electronic copy) and do not meet the stalker.
- If someone makes threats in a chat room or on a message board, notify the Police, MyCERT or website moderator/owner immediately.
- Victims should consider changing their e-mail address and any other account that the stalker knows about. They should also use privacy protection programs and email filtering/blocking software.
- Victims must not meet the stalker face to face to solve the problem as this can be very dangerous.
Possible effects of Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking can be threatening and frightening as any other type of crime even though you may not have any physical contact with the stalker. Victims of cyberstalking can experience psychological trauma as well as physical and emotional reactions. Some of these effects may include:
- changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- shock and disbelief
Victims should seek help from friends, family or professional counselors in order to cope with the trauma resulting from cyberstalking.
What can I report and who can I report to?
If you feel that you are in danger, consult or report to the local authorities (e.g.: the Police, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)). Ensure that you keep a copy /logs of all communications for proof. This ‘proof’ can not only provide clues to law enforcement for determining your stalker’s identity but also critical to proving criminal intent if legal action is warranted in the future. Reporting to a third-party organisation such as CyberSecurity Malaysia’s MyCERT can support the investigation to be carried out. Reporting the incidents to the police will put you in the best position to find the cyberstalker and they will be able to advice you on your safety.
As an added precaution, maintain any electronic copies/logs on removable media such as external disks, flash drives, or CD ROM. Do not retain this information on your hard drive only. This is because some stalkers may attempt to gain access to your computer, either while you are online, or by using a virus sent to you through e-mail to erase your evidence.
You can report the following cyberstalking activities:
- Threatening messages
- Death threats
- Sexual harassment
INCIDENT REPORTING CHANNELS
Online Reporting : http://www.mycertorg.my/report incidents/online_form.html
Telephone : Call Cyber999 Hotline number at 1-300-88-2999 or +603-8992 6969.