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Cyberstalking: How to Stay out of Danger

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Internet

Cyberstalking has recently made its place among the most notorious and destructive crimes that involve the use of the internet. And not unlike real life stalking, it is also perhaps the most terrifying.

Cyberstalking occurs when a person is able to gain personal information about you through the internet and online sources, and then uses that knowledge to harass and intimidate you. You wouldn't believe how much information bout you may be freely available on then net; just do a search on your name at any competent search engine, and you'll be surprised. And experienced cyberstalkers have advanced electronic methods at their disposal that will reveal even more.

Your cyberstalker's geographical location is arbitrary. The internet is a medium that makes nothing of a million miles. You never know who is stalking you. In real life cases of stalking, you are sure that it must be someone who lives near you, very probably in the same city or maybe even on the same street. In case of cyberstalking, your enemy might as well live at the opposite end of the earth you'd never know, and neither would it really matter. He or she can continue to haunt you from wherever they are.

Many cyberstalkers are adept enough that they do not even have to do the harassment themselves. They can easily make other people do their job for them unknowingly. For instance, they could make a false and disparaging comment about you on a public forum, and provide your business e-mail address. This will normally result in a huge flood of hate mail that will simply drown out normal, useful mail, and maybe make it necessary for you change your address, breaking important correspondence for weeks.

How do you stay out of harm's way regarding the threat of cyberstalking? The first principle is to leave as little trace as possible on the internet. Try using multiple email addresses, each for a different purpose, several of which do not contain sections of your name. There are some free mail services that allow you to change a certain portion of your e-mail address periodically. This kind of technique would confuse anyone who was trying to stalk you.

Secondly, get serious about security. Get some kind of encryption software for your e-mails, and create a pair of electronic keys. One of these is known as a private key, which only you possess. Another is the public key, which you can either circulate privately among your correspondents, or keep at a public download location. In the first case, you shall be able to encrypt your email in such a way that only those who have the key shall be able to read it. In the second case, you shall be able to electronically sign your emails in a way that will make it impossible for anyone else to forge your signature and claim to be you. Let your correspondents that you always sign your mail, and any unsigned mail shouldn't be considered authentic. GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) is one such program which can give you these functionalities.

Also, get serious about the Operating System you use. Windows is the most popular, but certainly not the most secure. Try using Linux for better security of your files. Or if you can't think of giving up Windows, then at least use NTFS, and do not keep any sensitive data on a FAT32 partition.

Using these methods you shall make your self a little more secure against the data theft which must precede any serious case of cyberstalking.