Women Get Cyber Stalked More Than Men – Tips to Stay Safe In 2021
In this advanced tech world, everything is online – be it banking, shopping, friends, entertainment, and more. We use the internet for pretty much everything these days. However, as we move online, unpleasant behaviors and actions like cyberbullying, online harassment, and phishing are also becoming very common, making users feel unsafe.
While both genders are under attack from cybercriminals, cases for women take the lead. Cybercrime has led users to take online security measures like using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), malware detectors, and more. According to VPNRanks cybersecurity statistics, VPN usage has increased by 124% in the US alone. That’s a massive number if you think about it. In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss the dangers of cyberstalking and tips to stay safe online.
Dangers of Cyberstalking
Before moving towards some tips for women to stay safe online, let’s look at some of the common dangers faced by online users. Both men and women have to face various types of online threats like frauds, phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and more. But women are more subjected to online harassment, especially in sexualized forms. These include revenge porn, sextortion, unwanted sexual requests, and sexualized bullying.
A study by Pew Research center found that 21 percent of women aged 18 – 29 have experienced some form of online harassment. A majority of the women (70%) believe online harassment is a major problem. Similarly, 35 percent of women say online harassment leaves a strong impression.
Other dangers that women have to face online include:
- Revenge porn
- Doxing (making someone’s personal information public)
Tips to Stay Safe Online
Let’s look at some tips to help you navigate the online realm safely. Here are some useful tips that you can use to protect yourself online:
1. Create separate profiles (work and personal)
When it comes to social media, we share a lot of information online. These days employers also recruit online, so they expect us to have a social media presence and treat it as a CV. So, the question is, how can you make yourself accessible to companies and colleagues without giving up too much information?
Well, the perfect solution is to create separate profiles for personal life and work. For your work profile, make sure to choose a professional picture and post things that are relevant to your job, and don’t post anything personal. This way, you can even make your profile public without fearing your security.
Similarly, for personal profiles, you can restrict access and only allow your close friends and family to view your profile. This way, you won’t have to worry about your employer or colleagues seeing too much about your personal life.
2. Provide minimal information
When creating an online profile, make sure to provide minimal or false information. You need to ask yourself, how much (minimum) information is required? Unless it’s a business profile or page, there is no need to add a phone number, postal code, or address. Similarly, make sure your email address is not made public; the same goes for the birth date.
If some information is required to set up the account, you can add false information like fake birth date, fake name, and postal code. Social media is not the only place where you need to be careful, be extremely wary of the information you give when you are taking part in quizzes or a survey.
3. Tighten your security with a VPN
As discussed above, there is an increase in the usage of VPNs by online users in order to safeguard their online privacy. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your online traffic and masks your real IP address, thus giving you a false IP address and location. For example, you might be located in London, but when you connect to a VPN, it tricks people into thinking that you are using the internet from France or any other location.
VPN is an excellent tool for tightening your online security because it makes your online traffic untraceable. No one, even your Internet Service Provider (ISP), will not be able to track your online activities as it will seem like all the traffic is coming from France. It’s a great way to hide your digital footprint.
4. Report abuse on online platforms
If you have experienced or are experiencing any criminal behavior or online harassment on social media platforms, then make sure to report such abuse. This goes for all the platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok.
It might take some time for these platforms to deal with the problem, but it’s worth it, as you are not only protecting yourself but also other women and children that might be exposed to a similar situation.
5. Block users and restrict your profiles
After you have reported such activity, the best way to ensure your security is to block the user altogether. Go to their profile, there is usually a dropdown menu from where you can block the user. You may be asked for a reason, but you don’t have to provide any and just click confirm.
Similarly, if you don’t want to block a user because he is a colleague or someone you know, then you can always restrict your profile and make it accessible by some users only. For example, if you restrict a user on Instagram, they can’t see what you do online and whether you have read their messages or not. In addition, you won’t receive any notifications or messages from them.
Your Online Security Matters!
These are some of the basic steps that will make sure you are safe and protected online. However, if you are facing these issues, it is important to talk to others about it. Most of us spend a good amount of time using the internet for entertainment, socializing, and more; why don’t we take a few minutes and talk about online threats and share them with people online.
Discuss online privacy issues and trends with your friends and family, especially children, so you can make sure that no one has to go through what you or most women have to go through online. Stand together and stay safe online!
This article has been published in accordance with Socialnomics’ disclosure policy.