Keeping Your Personal Information Private – Part 4

In Part 3, we reviewed Protecting your email information with security tools.  Today, our subject is an increasingly troubling and even dangerous phenomenon commonly referred to as cyber talking and some thoughts on Defending against cyber stalking.  

Online stalking or cyber stalking is unfortunately not new.  There are 15-20 year old websites relating to the topic that continue to receive inquiries.  With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, however, online stalking has become more common and more dangerous.  Growing numbers of people are reporting being pursued by stalkers via cell phones, internet services, GPS systems, wireless video cameras, and other technologies.

Generally speaking there are two types of online stalkers: one time offenders who hold a grudge or otherwise have developed an obsession, and serial stalkers who are always on the lookout for new victims. Although there are many variations on the theme, typically cyber stalkers will become more demanding over time and may eventually try to force you into doing what they want by threatening to or actually publishing defamatory, malicious information or private, personal data that could hurt you, your relationships, and/or your career.

The best way to defend yourself against cyber stalking is to make it hard for stalkers to find you and your private information in the first place.

  • When on the internet, never use your actual name – use a name or sign that is as unrelated to you as you can invent.
  • Never give out personal details like phone numbers or physical addresses.
  • Do not send any confidential information via a personal computer.  If absolutely necessary, use a library computer which a stalker is less likely to be able to track.
  • Remove any personal information from social media sites.

Perhaps most importantly, it is critically important to effectively manage the information broker community.  People finder data bases that contain vast amounts of sensitive personal information and readily sell that information on the internet make it very easy for stalkers to not only find and harass you, but equally easy to extend their activities to family members, relatives and associates.  Hence it is a fundamental imperative that you manage your personal information and direct its removal from those data bases that might publish or sell your information.   In fact, that’s the focus of our next session.

In Part 5 we’ll talk about How to manage the removal of your personal information from unauthorized sites and sites that sell your personal information.    

Protecting your personal information in an on-line world is a never ending and time consuming, but very necessary process for individual and family safety – especially today.