Usually when we write about hacking on the Panda Security blog, we’re talking about organised criminals stealing data for profit. That is not the only reason that people break into computers though – hacktivists use cybercrime techniques to make political statements for instance.
But there’s another reason to be aware of – obsession.
Obsession becomes stalking
Sometimes a person will develop an obsessive interest in a specific individual. They will then track that person online, gathering as much personal information as they can.
These people may claim they are just “super fans” who want to know everything they can about their idol. Others may believe they are involved in a relationship with the other person – even if they have never met.
This obsession is actually a form of stalking – and because it takes place online, we call it “cyberstalking”.
Cyberstalkers can become hackers
Eventually obsessive stalkers will want more information about their victims, such as home address, telephone number and private pictures. When that data is not easily found online, some will try and break into accounts belonging to their victims.
Cyberstalkers use many of the same techniques as hackers. Infecting their victim’s phone or computer with malware allows them to steal data for instance. Once they have gained access, they will continue to access personal data for weeks or months – and the victim may never realise until their information is leaked online.
Cyberstalkers are different to trolls because they develop an emotional connection with their victims. Where trolls shock and offend people in general, stalkers typically target specific individuals, building a fantasy life to support a close personal relationship that doesn’t actually exist.
Unlike trolls, stalkers may attempt to contact – and threaten – their victims in real life.
Protecting yourself against cyberstalkers
The first thing to realise is that almost anyone can become a victim of a stalker; these people do not just target celebrities. Sometimes they are ex-boyfriends known to the victim, other times it may be a casual acquaintance. On rare occasions it may be that the stalker is just a random follower on social media.
If you have a stalker, or suspect you are being stalked you can protect yourself by:
- Using the blocking tools built into social media platforms to report and ban problematic accounts.
- Reporting personal threats, particularly rape and violence to your local police force.
- Using anti-malware to prevent viruses or trojans being installed on your computer, smartphone and tablet.
- Updating your passwords using these guidelines so that they cannot be easily guessed or broken.
Cyberstalking is extremely serious and you must tell someone if you suspect you are a victim. Do not hesitate to contact the police if you feel in danger.
And even if you’ve never been a victim, downloading anti-malware software will protect you in advance of the unwanted attentions of a cyberstalker.
I’ve been hacked/Stalked by an employer. He was able to gain physical access to my home/office. He’s even gone so far as to blame me for the death of his 25 year old son, who I didn’t know. Physical access to my house in 2017 was not something I would figure out until 2019. By that time, I’d had all my devices hacked and gas lighted as a crazy person. If I get mad and call him to tell him to know it off, he calls the police and claims I’m harassing him. He even called my work recently. There are a lot of things that have gone on that are extremely confusion and would necessitate a onsite visit, I’d imagine. Is this something you guys can help out with?
We specialize in prevention software, such as antivirus and VPN. Unfortunately, we are not able to help you with this, but we strongly advice victims on cases in which they are robbed of their digital data to contact the police immediately.
What you are telling is bad, we trust that letting them know about this will grant you the security you need.
We are sorry that we cannot do more to help you.
Mike, I feel your pain. I have a hacker on my case terrorizing my life and then when I go to them and Elsa move to please stop hacking me they called the police on me and now I am actually one about the police because I didn’t show up in court. My life is going to ship because of them I’m financially drained bankrupt penniless and miserable and I don’t know how to get rid of them out of my phone out of my life out of my account for the life of me.
Hey bud just read your post, if it makes you feel any better my situation has a lot of the same traits. Its has been goin on for a very long time with me and its as a point where it is extremely unhealthy. I know now the stalking started about 10 years ago, it wasn’t until 4 years ago it became very clear to me what was goin on, by then alot of damage had already been done. Over the past 4 years it has been nearly impossible for me to keep even as much as a cell phone number. I do know what your going through, I hope it stops for you. Its no way to live. I will leave my contact info at the bottom if ever you wanted to chat, be nice to speak with someone who understands.
Whoa I dont want my comments posted this was an sales inquiry. c an you take that down