Safe Surfing Tips For Women
Every day I spend hours exploring the net, print media and other sources for gathering information on the latest cyber threats and crimes. In all my searches, what has been standing out strongly is the rise in crimes against women on the Internet. So what better occasion than Women’s Day, which falls on 8th March every year, to discuss such heinous crimes and ways to protect oneself from them? And as every girl on the net is a potential victim, Mothers should be especially educated on the threats to their beloved daughters so that they can, in turn, warn their kids and help them stay safe on the net.
Though India is one of the select nations to enact a law against cybercrimes, IT Act 2000, the law is strangely silent on cybercrimes against women. According to Supreme Court advocate and cyber law expert Pavan Duggal, “The IT Act, 2000, is primarily meant to be a legislation to promote e-commerce. It is not very effective in dealing with several emerging cybercrimes like cyber harassment, defamation, stalking and so on.”
The saddest part is that even little girls can become victims of cyberbullying, often leading to disastrous conclusions like deaths. SafetyWeb provides support for parents to improve internet safety for kids.
Types of cybercrimes that women usually face:
- Harassment via e-mails: It is inclusive of blackmailing, threatening, bullying, and even cheating. More often than not, the perpetrator uses a false id
- Cyber stalking: This is the most common and most frightening form of crime against women on the net. The stalker follows the victim’s activities on the net, by hacking the e-mail or social networking accounts; posting rude or obscene messages on the walls; entering chat-rooms frequented by the victim etc. It has been found that ex-husbands or boyfriends, jilted lovers, crazy fans, and jealous colleagues usually stalk women; while adult predators or paedophiles mainly stalk young girls. The stalkers finds his task made easier by the fact that the girls are usually not net-savvy.
- Cyber predators: Many young boys and girls click pics or videos of self and share publicly as part of some community criteria. These pics are then often misused. Photos uploaded on spurious dating or friendship sites are also likely to be misused. Older people with ulterior motives befriend kids on chat sites, pretending to be young themselves, and then cajole them to meet in person.
- Defamation: This occurs when someone publishes defamatory matter about a person or sends e-mails containing defamatory information to his/her friends
- Morphing: Often, the victim finds morphed pics of herself posted on her wall, followed by lewd messages and her contact no. Sometimes, children resort to morphing as revenge against bullying or humiliation. Take the case of the Air Force Balbharati School boy who was teased by his classmates for having a pockmarked face. He scanned photographs of his classmates and teachers, morphed them with nude photographs, and uploaded them on to a free web hosting service!
Read my blog on morphing here.
If you feel you are being stalked or maligned on the net; don’t panic. Keep a record of the page, block the stalker, don’t reply, or engage in verbal war. Report the incident to your nearest cybercrime cell. Change your e-mail id and password.
The most important tip I can give you is that as soon as your daughter starts using the net, have a frank chat with her on this subject. Explain to her the dangers she may face online and what she can do to stay safe. You owe her that.