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What is stalking?
Stalking or Cyber Stalking is the use of technology, particularly Internet to harass someone. Stalking activities often happen in diffrerent forms such as identity theft, online threats or data destruction; however, there is one common characteristic that they are all unwanted, obsessive and usually illegal. Just like when one person stalks your daily life through your bedroom window, an online stalker can disturb your life through so many media channels including but not limited to facebook, instagram, google plus or so on. He or she will:
- Sending threatening or abusive emails
- Repeated contact through social media
- Hacking into private accounts
- Installing malware
- Posting false or slanderous accusations online
- Encouraging others to harass the victim
All of those activities above will definitely annoy your life or even destroy your credit. What makes online stalking hard to cope with is that the crime is always anonymous and stalking can last for a long period of time, making the victims feel constantly nervous and obsessed.
If you’re experiencing persistent and unwanted attention, and the behaviour is making you feel fearful, harassed or anxious, then you are a victim of stalking. It’s not something that you should have to live with, and you should fight against it together with your family, friends and schools.
Why Stalking is a serious issue?
According to a survey of internet users’ experiences with online harassment conducted by the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel in June 2014:
- 40% of internet users have personally experienced online harassment.
- Social media is the most common way that users experience harassment. Online gaming communications, websites’ comments sections, and email are other common venues.
- Young adults between ages 18-24 are most likely to experience it; 70% reported having been the target of some kind of online harassment. Young women are most likely to experience severe forms of harassment; 26% have been stalked online, and 25% have been the target of online sexual harassment.
- 38% of people who have experienced online harassment said that a stranger was responsible for their most recent incident, and 26% said that they did not know the real identity of the perpetrator.
- 37% of those who have experienced more severe forms including sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, or sustained harassment reported that the incident was “extremely” or “very” upsetting. About 33% felt that their reputation had been damaged by the experience.
Stories of Victims:
Miss Teen USA Winner Cassidy Wolf was the victim of a cyberstalker
Californian teen and beauty pageant winner Cassidy Wolf had been cyberstalked for over a year before she realized someone was watching her every move.
The horrifying truth came out when she received an email from Facebook, alerting her of suspicious activity. Cassidy realized that her other social media profiles had been compromised. Passwords had been changed, and her Twitter profile had been changed to an image showing her partially nude. Cassidy, who was underage, had never seen the photo before. Thirty minutes after the email from Facebook, Cassidy received an email from her stalker. According to recently released court documents, the email read as follows:
“Here’s what’s going to happen! Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics ... and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar. Do one of the following and I will give you back all your accounts and delete the pictures. 1) Send me good quality pics on Snapchat 2) Make me a good quality video 3) Go on skype with me and do what I tell you to do for 5 minutes. If you don’t do those or if you simply ignore this then those pics are going up all over the internet. It’s your choice :)”
Cassidy told her parents about the email, and they immediately contacted the FBI. Agents began a full scale investigation. After performing a forensic analysis of Wolf’s infected laptop, FBI agents discovered that she’d been infected with malware. The program, Blackshades, had turned her laptop into the eyes and ears of her assailant. For over a year, she’d been sharing her bedroom with a stalker.
The FBI quickly found her cyberstalker. The culprit, Jared James Abrahams, had been her high school classmate. Although Cassidy was never friends with Jared, she knew who he was. Ironically, the semi-famous beauty queen was the only target Abrahams knew personally. He had infected up to 150 computers of other women. Some were based in the US, others abroad. The youngest victim was only 14 years old. Jared James Abrahams was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
- Amanda Todd was a bright and bubbly 13-year- old from Canada.
During an Internet chat session, a stranger asked her to bare her breasts. In a fleeting moment, she complied. Amanda had no idea he’d recorded it. The stranger contacted her again, and threatened to release the file unless she posed nude for him. She refused, and the photograph was released to her peers. After being subjected to relentless bullying as a result, Amanda committed suicide.
Six months later, it turned out the ‘stranger’, who many assumed to be a classmate, was actually a 36-year- old pedophile. Aydin Corban, a Dutch resident, was charged with sextorting Amanda and dozens of other young girls.
How to resist:
- Maintain vigilance over physical access to your computer and other Web-enabled devices like cell phones. Cyberstalkers use software and hardware devices (sometimes attached to the back of your PC without you even knowing) to monitor their victims.
- Be sure you always log out of your computer programs when you step away from the computer and use a screensaver with a password. The same goes for passwords on cell phones. Your kids and your spouse should develop the same good habits.
- Make sure to practice good password management and security. Never share your passwords with others. And be sure to change your passwords frequently! This is very important.
- Do an online search for your name or your family members' now and then to see what's available about you and your kids online. Don't be shy about searching social networks (including your friends' and colleagues'), and be sure to remove anything private or inappropriate.
- Delete or make private any online calendars or itineraries-- even on your social network-- where you list events you plan to attend. They could let a stalker know where you're planning to be and when.
- Use the privacy settings in all your online accounts to limit your online sharing with those outside your trusted circle. You can use these settings to opt out of having your profile appear when someone searches for your name. You can block people from seeing your posts and photos, too.
- If you suspect that someone is using spyware software to track your everyday activities, and you feel as if you're in danger, only use public computers or telephones to seek help. Otherwise, your efforts to get help will be known to your cyberstalker and this may leave you in even greater danger.
- As always, use good, updated security software to prevent someone from getting spyware onto your computer via a phishing attack or an infected Web page. Check the app store for your mobile devices to see what security software is available. Or visit the Norton Mobile page to see what programs are available for your device's platform. Security software could allow you to detect spyware on your device and decrease your chances of being stalked.
https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types- crime/stalking-and- harassment
https://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/advice-and- support/protecting-you- and-your- family/Pages/stalking-and- harassment.aspx