Cyber crime

Online Harassment & Cyber Crime: its Prevention


With rapid technological changes, everything is digitizing. Additionally, threats like unethical hacking, cybercrime, and online harassment appear to intensify.

Research has found that 57,000 scam websites have been created by cybercriminals every week. In 2008, about 10 million victims of identity theft were reported in America alone.

What is online harassment?

Online Harassment is the easiest way of harassing someone on the internet without revealing your identity. It includes trolling, false accusations, defamation, threats, sexual harassment, vandalism, etc. are a part of Cyber Crime.

What is Cyber Crime?

cyber crime and online harassment

Cybercrime, in its essence, is a form of activity that causes harm to any other entity. This can include anything from trolling, cyberbullying, online sexual harassment, cyberbullying, online blackmailing, online extortion, and more. While the more extreme form of cybercrime is not a widespread practice despite being not unusual, online bullying and sexual harassment are something that most have experienced online.

Generally, there are 5 types of Cybercrime mostly prevailing in society.

1. Hacking

Hacking is simply accessing your computer system without your permission =. There can be several motives behind the hacking, but greed, fame, and power are the most prevailing reasons. Some even show off their expertise ranging from relatively harmless to most destructive activities.

Hackers – people/ entities behind the hacking – break into your system and steal your sensitive information. This information can include but is not limited to such as banking information and corporation’s financial data, and modify it to execute tasks at their whim.

2. Phishing

This is another cybercrime that gets your sensitive and personal information by pretending to be a enterprise. The email typically carries out spoofing where the email contains links to legitimate appearing websites sent to users. You probably have received it, found it suspicious, and didn’t click the link. Smart move. Because the malware would have installed itself on your computer and stolen private information, Cyber-criminal tricks you into downloading malware off the internet or making you fill in your personal information under pretenses.

But, they do not all phishing attacks via the internet. Sometimes fake calls with fake identities might fool you into considering the call from a trusted organization. It is Vishing (voice phishing).

3. Cyber Stalking

social media and online harassment

Cyberstalking was new yet the most popular form of internet crime in our society when a person pursued or followed online. A stalker follows you virtually through your online activity to seek your information, bully and harass you. After this, they make threats using verbal intimidation. People usually cyberstalk on social media.

Most victims of this crime are women stalked by men and children who adult predators stalk. They thrive on inexperienced web users who are not well aware of the rules of internet safety. A cyberstalker may be a stranger but could just as easily be someone you know.

4. Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime where criminals may have gained access to your credit card or banking account information and may use that information to make purchases in your name. It was prevailing before the Internet’s conception, but the virtual world has made it much easier for criminals to utilize and steal your identity.

Identity theft scams are everywhere online and can come in the form of a spam email, website, or even an online pop-up survey. Phishing is a significant contributor to identity theft.

5. Copyright Infringement

The copyright is an exclusive legal right over your work. Copyright does not protect an abstract idea but only protects the concrete form of expression in work. The copyright protects a wide range of works which include written, musical, artistic, dramatic, etc.

In Copyright infringement, people copy and use yours without license or permission. The content can be anything, including source code, logo, video, music, etc.

These things can easily lead to both large-scale and small-scale cyber wars.

Common Forms of Cyber harassment

While the mentioned forms of Cyber Crime are harmful, they are rarely experienced online by regular people all that often. The fact goes that unless you have something of value, people after resources and money will not bother to hack your devices and steal your identity. Phishing is effective to some extent, but it is like throwing a hundred darts in a room filled with million balloons. At the same time, cyberstalking is a preemptive measure that people take before committing cyber crimes. However, online harassing activities can happen to anyone, and the following are some examples of the ones that can happen to anyone.

1) Hate Speech

sexual harassment and online harassment

Over the past few years, this term has blown up over the internet. While it is true that as long as you are offended, anything can be considered hate speech, it is easy to determine words that are meant to humiliate you and offend you vs. those that you accidentally get offended by.

Direct and groundless comments about your race, gender, age, height, disability, etc., meant to trigger or offend you, are widely thrown around as a form of hate speech. The online abuser can hide behind the veil of the internet easily.

2) Revenge Porn

While revenge porn is not “common,” it is not rare either. A quick scan of sites like encrypted porn forums can easily grant you access to a ton of revenge porn (and grant you access to a ton of malware and hackers). While people accept porn as adult entertainment, revenge porn is not. This is meant as a form of blackmailing the recipient – primarily female.

This is easily the most harmful and vilest form of sexual harassment. The victim is crippled mentally and socially – which oftentimes leads to severe mental issues if not death.

3) Sexual Harassment

cyber crime and online harassment

Sexual harassment is not limited to revenge porn. People, especially females, are wide exposed to sexual harassing activities on the internet. This can be in the form of spam messages with inappropriate sexual comments, unsolicited nudes/ sexual images, tagging, and more. This form of sexual harassment is a regular but sad reality for many females on the internet.

With many people being open about their genders with the normalization of genders other than male and female, they have been among some of the prime targets of online sexual harassment. Though we do not usually hear about the sexual harassment of males – they too are victims to some extent as well.

The point here is that if you are on the internet and click one wrong link, sexual harassment is just a click away.

Tips to prevent online harassment

It is essential to understand that the root cause of such online harassment is not the insecure internet platforms but the toxic mentality of the people who sit behind the online platforms and misuse them. You have to be aware of these crimes and protect yourself. There is a famous saying that when people know that their actions have virtually no consequences, the extremes of their personalities can come out, which in the case of online abusers is their online bullying. That said, there are a few ways you can prevent online bullying and save yourself from going to mental health care.

Protect your data and personal information

sensitive information

Many online harassers and criminals often ask you to share basic personal information using many online services. The best way to protect yourself from phishing, identity theft, hacking, and DOS attacks is to use common sense to distinguish the suspicious from unauthorized ones. Do not respond to email messages that contain misspellings, poor grammar, odd phrases, or websites with strange extensions. Even if the email seems legit, if you don’t see a login reason behind the email, never share your sensitive information with them. Sharing your personal and sensitive information is a straightforward and sure-shot way to be a victim of online crime.

Stay away from anonymous emails.

No one will receive a large sum of money from a random unknown person. “Win an iPhone from google. Make big money from passive residual income after a few hours of working out of your home. ” You should know this notification message and ignore it instead.

Keep your Firewall turned on

A firewall is a barrier between your pc and the internet. It protects your system from harmful people who can attemot to access and crash it, delete information, or steal passwords and other sensitive information.

Choose a strong password

strong password

Use different passwords, not repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords more often. You should set a complex password using a combination of at least ten letters, numbers, and symbols. A password management application can help you to keep your passwords secure.

Install antivirus software

Antivirus software prevents malicious software programs from accessing your computer. It identifies malicious programs like viruses and worms and blocks them from entering your system.

Be careful on social media and online forums

social media

As we mentioned, social media and online forums are the gateways to facing harassment online. Therefore you should be careful while using them. Adding unknown people or joining random forums will cause a bad feelings experienced online and open you to many online abusers. This is one of the simplest and easiest tips to prevent cyber harassment activity. You ignore this if you want to become a target of online harassment.

The conclusion

The internet is a weird and wonderful place filled with its share of darkness. Among many dark spots of the internet, online harassment is the most common one. If you do not thread carefully, you can attract and face severe forms of online bully or harassment. A careless leak of your sensitive information can be an invitation to online abusers and expose you to harassment online.

But, you can prevent this from happening. As long as you are careful about the links you click, forums you join, and people you add, it is not hard to avoid this tumor of the internet.

We hope you found this helpful. And as always, thank you for reading till the end.

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