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Is your data safe on web? Cyber stalkers are around

Cyberstalking is one of latest ones in the series of ugly impacts of internet that a large number of people especially women are faced with today. Wikipedia defines cyberstalking as the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass.

In India’s first case of cyber stalking, Delhi Police arrested Manish Kathuria in early 2000. Manish was stalking a person called Ritu Kohli. Ever since, there has been flood of such cases emerging from different parts of the country.

Cyberstalking has reached to that extent that any intimate details, personal preferences, friend circles and anything and everything about the lives of the victims are known to the cyber stalkers. The emergence of social networking sites such as Orkut, Facebook and such other have made it easy for the cyber stalkers to gain access to as many information as they wish. This practice, in other words called ‘Social Phishing’ aims to gather victims’ personal interests, photos, contacts, addresses, telephone numbers etc which in turn are the tools to harass them.

Cyber stalkers edit or morph the photos which they publish online to defame the victim or to cause psychological pressure. Details about the victim’s sex lives, financial situations, and careers are usually exploited by these culprits, which enable the predators to make the victim to dance according to their tones.

The amount of trauma cyber stalkers cause is highly heinous. They take physical and sexual advantages with the use of the private information accessed. The enormous psychological harassment has caused many to commit suicide, withdraw from the society, go in complete isolation, and loss the mental balance.

Using safe web browsers and limited and cautious sharing of personal data online can keep the cyber stalkers away to an extent. Revealing oneself to unknown people and strangers on the web can invite trouble. As soon as you realize that you have become a victim of cyberstalking, you should change your passwords and remove all your personal data from your profile. One should also report this to the cyber crime cell.

Although we have proper laws like the Indian IT Act 2000 which state that this kind of activities are criminal in nature, the question remains unanswered that is our cyber force trained enough and equipped well to handle the cyber stalkers? As it is impossible to predict who is going to be stalked or who is already being a victim, proper awareness programs should be undertaken to educate people about the dangers of cyberstalking and the damage it can cause.

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