What is Cyber Stalking / Harassment

Cyber stalking is repeated use of the Internet or other electronic communication to harass or frighten someone. This may be done over social networking media like facebook, twitter etc or over e-mails. If you are victimized so, immediately such instances should be reported to the Police for necessary action.

What are Social Networking sites?

Social networking sites, sometimes called "friend-of-a-friend" sites, build upon the concept of traditional social networks where you are connected to new people through the people you already know. The purpose of some networking sites may be purely social, allowing users to show friendships or romantic relationships, while others may focus on establishing business connections.

What security implications do these sites present?

Social networking sites rely on connections and communication, so they urge you to offer a certain amount of personal information. When deciding how much information to show, people may not exercise the same amount of caution as they would when meeting someone in person because

  • the internet provides a sense of anonymity.
  • the lack of physical interaction provides a false sense of security.
  • they tailor the information for their friends to read, forgetting that others may see it.
  • they want to offer insights to impress potential friends or associates.

While the majority of people using these sites do not pose a threat, malicious people may be drawn to them because of the accessibility and amount of personal information available on them. The more information malicious people have about you, the easier it is for them to take advantage of you. Predators may form relationships online and then convince unsuspecting people to meet them in person. That could lead to a dangerous situation. The personal information can also be used to conduct a social engineering attack. Using information that you give about your place, hobbies, interests, and friends, a malicious person could impersonate a trusted friend or convince you that they have the authority to get access to other personal or FINANCIAL data.

How can you protect yourself in Social Networking sites?

  • Limit the amount of personal information you post - Do not post information that would make you vulnerable (e.g., your address, information about your schedule or routine).
  • Remember that the internet is a public resource - Only post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing. This includes information in your profile and in blogs and other forums. Also, once you post information online, you can't retract it. Even if you remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other people's machines
  • Beware of strangers - The internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. Consider limiting the people who are allowed to contact you on these sites. If you interact with people you do not know, be cautious about the amount of information you show or agreeing to meet them in person.
  • Be skeptical - Don't believe everything you read online. People may post false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities. This is not necessarily done with malicious intent; it could be unintentional, a product of exaggeration, or a joke.Take proper precautions, though, and try to verify the authenticity of any information before taking any action.
  • Check privacy policies - Some sites may share information such as email addresses or user preferences with other companies. This may lead to an increase in spam. Also, try to find the policy for handling referrals to make sure that you do not unintentionally sign up your friends for spam. Some sites will continue to send email messages to anyone you refer until they join.

How to protect your children in Social Networking Sites

Children are especially susceptible to the threats that social networking sites present. Although many of these sites have age restrictions, children may misrepresent their ages so that they can join. Parents can make sure that the children become safe and responsible internet users by teaching children about internet safety, being aware of their online habits, and guiding them to right sites.

The following tips can help your kids use social networking sites safely

  • Help your kids understand what information should be private.
  • Explain that kids should post only information that you – and they – are comfortable with others seeing.
  • Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child’s website.
  • Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can’t take it back.
  • Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online.
  • Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions.
  • If they ever feel uncomfortable or threatened by anything online, encourage them to tell you.
  • Review your kid’s friends list often.
  • Keep the computer in open area in the home so that you can see what your children are surfing.
  • Try to understand the privacy policy of each site.