Women are being disproportionately targeted by cyber criminals worldwide.
According to UN Women, 2 out of 10 young women have been sexually harassed online in the U.S.
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One in 10 women in the European Union report having experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15.
Another report by the UN reveals that almost 3/4 of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence.
Research by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative suggests that up to 90 % of revenge porn victims are women and the number of cases is increasing.
According to Malwarebytes more women were found to receive text messages from unknown numbers that include potentially malicious links than men (79% compared to 73%).
The victims are usually targeted via social media and most of the time it’s someone they know or have had some kind of relationship with. What are the threats and how to deal with them?
1. What are the top cybersecurity threats for women?
In the field of computer security, camfecting is the process of attempting to hack into a person’s webcam and activate it without the webcam owner’s permission.
Catfishing is a form of fraud or abuse where someone creates a fake online identity to target a particular victim.
Cyberflashing is the practice of sending women unsolicited images of male genitalia, often with the intent of silencing women
Cyberstalking involves the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to perpetrate more than one incident intended to repeatedly harass, annoy, attack, threaten, frighten, and/or verbally abuse individuals.
It is the act of revealing identifying information about someone online, such as their real name, home address, workplace, phone, financial, and other personal information.
Flaming is posting personal insults and vulgar and angry words. It’s an intense argument that normally takes place in chat rooms, via instant messages, email or social media sites. It is a very aggressive form of intimidation.
Refers to the distribution of sexual or pornographic images of individuals without their consent. This may include images taken without consent or images taken with consent but later distributed without the consent of those in the images. Also known as cyber exploitation or non-con-sensual pornography.
Romance scam is when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust.
Sextortion occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if their demands are not met.
2. What can women do to protect themselves online?
- Use strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts, and avoid using personal information that can be easily guessed or discovered in your passwords.
- Be cautious about sharing personal information online, and avoid posting sensitive information such as your home address, phone number, or financial information on social media or other public websites.
- Use privacy settings on social media and other online platforms to control who can see your posts and personal information.
- Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, as these may contain malware or other malicious software.
- Use antivirus and security software on your computer and other devices, and keep it up to date to protect against malware and other online threats.
- Be aware of online scams and fraud, and do not provide personal or financial information to anyone unless you are sure they are legitimate.
- If you are the victim of online harassment or other forms of cyberbullying, report it to the relevant authorities and seek help and support from friends, family, or organizations that can assist you.
3. What to do if you’re being cyberstalked?
- Document the stalking:
Keep a record of the stalking behavior, including the dates, times, and details of the incidents. This can be helpful in proving that you are being stalked and in getting help from law enforcement.
- Block the stalker:
Use the blocking or reporting tools on social media and other online platforms to block the stalker and prevent them from contacting you or seeing your posts.
- Tell someone:
Tell someone you trust about the stalking, such as a friend, family member, or law enforcement officer. They can provide support and help you take action to stop the stalking.
- Get help:
If the stalking is severe or threatening, contact law enforcement and seek assistance from an organization that specializes in helping victims of stalking. They can provide advice, support, and legal assistance to help you protect yourself and stop the stalking.
4. How to deal with sextortion?
- Do not give in to the demands:
The first and most important step is to refuse to meet the extortionist’s demands. Giving in to their demands will only encourage them to continue their extortion attempts, and may put you at risk of further harm.
- Document the extortion:
Keep a record of the extortion attempts, including any messages or threats that the extortionist has sent you. This can be helpful in proving that you are being extorted and in getting help from law enforcement.
- Tell someone:
Tell someone you trust about the extortion, such as a friend, family member, or law enforcement officer. They can provide support and help you take action to stop the extortion.
- Get help:
Contact law enforcement and seek assistance from an organization that specializes in helping victims of online extortion. They can provide advice, support, and legal assistance to help you protect yourself and stop the extortion.
5. What resources are available for women to protect themselves?
- Sexual Harassment Online: Shaming and Silencing Women in the Digital Age by Tania G. Levey
- Hate Speech against Women Online: Concepts and Countermeasures by Louise Richardson-Self
- Vapor: A True Story of How I Fell Victim to Catfishing by Debra Danielsen
- A Practical Guide to Coping with Cyberstalking by National Centre for Cyberstalking Research
- Cyber Security: Awareness Training For Absolute Beginners by Logix Academy
- Women’s Immersion Academy by SANS Institute
- AntiStalkers: Stop Stalkers, Harassment, Cyberstalking Now! by Action Courses
- Combating Cyber Violence against Women and Girls 2022 by European Institute for Gender Equality
- Cyber Crimes Against Women & Girls by UN Studies Association
- Combatting Online Violence Against Women & Girls: A Worldwide Wake-up Call by UNESCO
- Cyber Story: Man Sentenced for Cyberstalking a Public School Teacher
- Cyber Tips for Women
- CyberDecoded : Decoding cyber threats against women
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