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Digital Stalking. National Centre for Cyberstalking Research 2013. Cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is generally considered to be harassment that originates online, however it is also recognised that other forms of pre-existing stalking can transfer into online environments.

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digital stalking

Digital Stalking

National Centre for Cyberstalking Research



Cyberstalkingis generally considered to be harassment that originates online, however it is also recognised that other forms of pre-existing stalking can transfer into online environments

occurrence of cyberstalking
Occurrence of Cyberstalking
  • Cyberstalking can be said to occur when there has been persistent and frequent unwanted contact from another individual/s
  • The behaviour in question has caused fear and distress.
types of attack
Types of attack
  • Identity theft – controlling victim’s credentials
  • Posting false profiles
  • Posing as the victim and attacking others
  • Discrediting in online communities
  • Discrediting victim in workplace
  • Direct threats through email/instant messaging
  • Constructing websites targeting the victim
  • Transferring attack to victim’s relatives
  • Use of the victim’s image
  • Provoking others to attack the victim
  • Following the victim in cyberspace
prevalence of problem
Prevalence of Problem
  • 2.1 million across the UK
    • 1.2 million females
    • 0.9 million males
  • Number of male victims is growing
how aggressors obtain information
How Aggressors Obtain Information?
  • Digital Footprints
    • Personal information
    • Financial information
    • Internet usage
    • Details of friends and family
    • Daily activities
    • Work
    • Location and much more
  • Social Networking Sites
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
geo location
  • “Foursquare” app
    • Discover where your friends are
  • “Girls Around Me” app- banned by Foursquare
    • Merging Facebook and Foursquare information with Google Maps and real-time GPS location data
    • Tells where nearby women are; allows to see their full name, photos, and send them messages
  • Facebook
    • Check-in where you are
    • Add people you are with
    • Add date
  • Physical danger
  • Identity theft
  • Obtaining contact information
  • Accounts takeover
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
observation and understanding the echo study electronic communication harassment observation
Observation and Understanding The ECHO Study - Electronic Communication Harassment Observation
  • Commissioned by the Network for Surviving Stalking
  • Pilot study commenced in September 2010
  • Analysis of the survey to be published in May 2011
  • New extended study launched and will run for one year
observation and understanding the echo study electronic communication harassment observation1
Observation and Understanding The ECHO Study - Electronic Communication Harassment Observation
  • The results indicated that22.8% of cases (25.9% for males, 21.4% females) report that their harasser was a stranger
  • 27.9% (21.2% males, 31.3% females) say the harasser wassomeone they dated/were married to
transmission to other environments
Transmission to other Environments

The more fixated an individual is, the more likely they are to move from one online environment to another until the target’s online presence is fully intruded upon

transmission to other environments1
Transmission to other Environments

73.55% of cases reported 2 or more mediums of harassment and 57.7% of cases reported that they had been harassed through more than 2 mediums (Phone calls, texts, e-mail, social networking sites, instant messages and physical environment)

the psychological impact post traumatic stress disorder
The Psychological ImpactPost Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • 32.7% of respondents who reported experiencing harassment indicate symptoms of PTSD according to the clinical questionnaire. Respondents indicating PTSD were more likely to report more changes to their lives due to the harassment
  • 50 % of people experiencing harassment electronically and physically (combined stalking) experience PTSD
types of traumas
Types of Traumas

Air crash survivors 22 - 40%

RTA survivors 11%

Sexual assault 22-50%

Aid workers 30-50%

Combat veterans 22-50%

Bomb survivors 50%

effectiveness of services and other interventions
Effectiveness of services and other interventions
  • 53.4%(47.7% males, 54.9% females) reported their problem to some authority
  • 10.8% (10.2% for Males, 11.3% for females) of the cases reported ended due to legal intervention (by police or Solicitors)
  • 37.2% of harassed people (27.3% of Males, 40.7% of Females) received some form of help to cope with the harassment.
how to protect yourself
How to Protect Yourself?
  • Assess what online information exists about you
  • Change your e-mail and passwords for key online accounts and keep them safe
  • Review all the privacy and security settings
  • Avoid public forums
  • Limit what you share
  • Educate friends, family and work colleagues
  • Gather evidence
  • Report to police
  • Seek help and support for the charities
cyberstalking forensics
Cyberstalking Forensics
  • The majority of evidence is gathered from the victims immediate physical vicinity
  • Cyberstalking Monitor applications can record and transmit interactions between offender & victim simultaneously to law enforcement officers
  • Event log files from ISPs, Telecoms, employer network systems, etc., can correlate offender communications
  • Existing technologies can assist with attribution & prosecution of offenderssuch as CCTV, GPS, etc.
bringing cyberstalking out of the shadows
Bringing Cyberstalking ‘Out of the Shadows’
  • The problem is multidisciplinary and requires a multidisciplinary approach
  • More research is required to understand the problem
  • Initial indications are that the behaviours and composition of the online stalking population differ significantly from traditional stalking – opening diverse lines of enquiry for research and the development of effective interventions
legal change
Legal Change
  • The Internet is a conduit through which an increasing amount of interaction with society is conducted.  The impact on an individual of such communications is significantly greater than it was 10 years ago.
  • Facebook, which now has over 600 million users (10% of the world's population), was only launched in 2004! 
legal change1
Legal Change
  • In recent years we have seen changes to legislation that recognise the impact of technology on society and the ease with which criminal offences can be committed.
  • Most notably, the Police and Justice Act of 2006 amended the Computer Misuse Act of 1990. One change was the length of maximum jail sentence.
legal change2
Legal Change
  • Malicious Communications Act of 1988 amended by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 - ensure electronic communications were covered. 
  • However, there should be reconsideration of whether the punishment currently legislated is sufficient.   
legal change3
Legal Change
  • Protection From Harassment Act 1997 - does not explicitly state electronic communications. 
  • A clear statement of electronic communications would assist investigating police officers in seizing evidence in cases of Cyberstalking.
  • Current lack of power to seize evidence, and this only exacerbates the problem of attribution. 
law change
Law Change
  • Amendments have been made to the Protection of Freedoms Bill making stalking a specific offence in England and Wales.
  • One of the amendments includes the ability for Police to have access to the use of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication associated with stalking.
  • The commencement order for the new law was 25th November 2012