A call came in that a potential client was stalked and then accosted, assaulted and battered outside his home as the result of his attackers getting his electronic information and then conspiring to ambush this promising young football player. Critical evidence may be found in the attackers’ computers, social networking sites, cell phones and PDAs. The innocent victim saw the attackers’ cell phones light up just before he was struck, kicked and battered to the ground. They had been hiding in the bushes and behind cars in the neighborhood, and were able to have someone off site coordinate their attack via computer. This is a use of laptop computers, PDAs and cell phones that is not a positive technological advance. Here at Abrams Landau, we have been contacted by individuals and families who have been injured and social network site evidence and electronic communications have been important.
Here are some tips to keep you safe in today’s virtual world:
1. Remember that you are in control. Many social networking websites have privacy options. Nothing on the Internet is truly anonymous, so use the privacy settings available to you.
2. Stay organized. If possible, maintain two e-mail accounts. You may have business e-mail, but you should have a second e-mail for social communication. There are many free e-mail account services on the web made for this reason.
3. Keep your password to yourself. Yes, you should write your password down somewhere, but do not proclaim it to the world, or even a close friend. There is no reason to put yourself in the position of victim.
4. Use the power of invisibility. When entering chat rooms or online forums, watch and wait before posting. Make sure the discussion is what you expected and the participants are staying on-topic. Just because you are in the virtual “room”, does not mean you have to comment.
5. Trust your instincts. If an online message gives you a feeling of discomfort do not hesitate to block or deny the user in the future. Again, you are in control of you virtual life.
6. Use common sense. Do not leave your computer lying around, logged-in, and easy to hack into.
If you or someone you know is dealing with any form of cyberstalking, on-line harassment or has been attacked as the result of computer communications, please contact us.