It was around a year ago that I came across a meaningful and positive initiative by an online privacy and security brand, PureVPN. It wasn’t entirely an accident since I was researching the devastating effects of cyberstalking and how it has become a menace to society at large.
What is Cyberstalking & How is PureVPN Helping?
The internet has been a blessing of sorts for most people around the world. With access to all kinds of information, as well as the availability of unparalleled platforms for communications, the internet brought with it a plethora of benefits.
Sadly, accompanying these benefits were curses that include the likes of hacking, identity theft, and cyberstalking. These problems didn’t really exist before the advent of the internet but have since become a nuisance for almost every internet user.
How Society Defines Cyberstalking
The worst of these issues, especially for women, is cyberstalking. As if stalking in the traditional sense wasn’t bad enough, women now have to deal with creepers following their digital breadcrumbs. Instead of encountering strangers chancing a peak at your bedroom through your window, your social profiles are now being stalked, relentlessly.
Compared to a loser watching you through his binoculars, cyberstalkers are far more dangerous and highly efficient at being eerie. They use the internet for their unholy gratification, and they use hacking, spyware and Trojans, etc. to keep an eye on you.
Unfortunately, most of the times, the victims themselves make it easy for cyberstalkers to get their address, DOB, phone number, as know their friend circle via their social profiles. The stalkers wait patiently like a predator and pounce at the right time to hack into your devices and steal your private data including any pictures and videos saved on your device.
The stolen content is then used to blackmail you for a ransom or granting “other” personal favors to the cyberstalker. According to the most recent estimates, 94% of all women fall victim to cyberstalking and over 20,000 cyberstalking cases are reported each year.
The worst part of the cyberstalking issue is that there is virtually no real awareness on this issue. Those being molested by cyberstalkers do not know how to get out of this ordeal. This is because most victims prefer to stay quiet for the sake of their reputation. Others don’t find relevant platforms to share their experiences or get proper counselling or solutions.
This is why it was a welcome change to see PureVPN step in and provide a platform to the people combatting or suffering at this hands of this menace.
How is PureVPN Helping the Victims of Cyberstalking?
Being a vocal advocate of online privacy and security, PureVPN has no direct connection with the cyberstalking issue. The company provides a VPN service, which though can be helpful in maintaining online privacy and security, but is not a direct solution to stop cyberstalking.
The company is still making efforts to prevent cyberstalking and raise awareness because it knows it has the right resources to spread awareness about this growing horror. Being a major VPN brand, the company reaches a huge audience through its online blog, from where it shares awareness and solutions for various issues, including cyberstalking.
The extraordinary part is that the VPN provider has opened up it platform for people to share their story and make themselves heard. This initiative by the VPN brand went viral last year and is still garnering a lot of attention, which in turn is a huge helping hand for victims of cyberstalking. Victims have an open invitation to contact the company and share their stories for the awareness of the larger population.
Few solutions for Cyberstalking Prevention
Due to the anonymity the Internet provides and the absence of a unifying law against cybercrimes, more and more perpetrators are encouraged to engage in these acts. Fortunately there are a number of ways to protect yourself. We list down 5 ways to avoid becoming a victim of cyberstalking.
- Awareness is the key
Understanding how cyberstalking works is key to avoiding the issue. Search for anything and everything related to cyberstalking prevention. Learn how to report cyberstalking in case you feel that you’re being stalked on the internet.
- Keep your passwords hidden
Make sure to change your passwords regularly and make them difficult to crack by even the most experienced of hackers. Don’t trust anyone with your passwords and do not write them down anywhere.
- Think Twice Before Sharing
We tend to share our personal information and feelings online. All of this information can be seen by a potential cyberstalker. Make sure to share as little as possible about yourself online.
- Sign out of Online Accounts
When using a public computer, make sure to sign out of any online accounts. Make sure that no stranger has access to your accounts and the data in them.
- Share and Aware Others
Whatever you learn about the cyberstalking issue needs to be shared with others. Encourage others to take preventive steps. Don’t give cyberbullies the chance to harass you or anyone else online.
Kudos to PureVPN for their efforts to help victims of cyberstalking. We believe that this initiative is turning heads in the right direction. It is sad to see no other company following suit, but at least there is someone who cares enough, and for me that’s encouragement enough.
About Author: Anas Baig is a Security Research Analyst by profession with a profound interest in online privacy, security and IoT. He has been featured on major media outlets including TheGuardian, Lifehacker Australia, The Next Web, CSO, ITProPortal, Infosec Magazine, Tripwire and many others. Follow him on Twitter @anasbaigdm to get recent updates in Tech.