What is Cyberstalking? Everything You Need to Know (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

What is Cyberstalking? Everything You Need to Know (2023)

What is Cyberstalking?

Have you ever felt like someone is watching you online? Cyberstalking, a form of online harassment, has become increasingly prevalent in today’s digital age. In this blog post, we’ll uncover the hidden world of cyberstalking, its dangers and impact on victims, and delve into the laws and regulations governing this disturbing behavior. Are you ready to explore the dark side of the internet?


  • Cyberstalking involves using digital tools to harass or stalk individuals, causing fear, distress, or potential physical harm.

  • It includes repeated unwanted contact, identity theft, or monitoring of online activities without consent.

  • Protection strategies involve maintaining online privacy, reporting incidents to authorities, and using digital security measures such as applying complex passwords.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

Understanding Cyberstalking

Imagine someone constantly monitoring your online activities, sending you unwanted messages, or even threatening you through electronic means. This is the reality for victims of cyberstalking – a serious crime that has been on the rise with the growth of social media and other online platforms. Cyberstalking is a form of online harassment that uses technology to stalk, harass, or threaten a person. The motives behind cyberstalking often stem from a desire to control, intimidate, or influence the victim.

There are various types of cyberstalking, such as vindictive, composed, intimate, and collective, as well as corporate cyberstalking, where a company or an individual harasses an organization online. In some cases, cyberstalking can involve bullying, sexual harassment, or other unwanted attention related to the victim’s life and activities.

Recognizing the signs of cyberstalking is crucial in order to protect oneself and seek help. Some key elements of cyberstalking include malice, premeditation, repetition, obsession, vendetta, and threats. According to the US Department of Justice, 14 out of every 1,000 adults are victims of stalking each year, with a quarter of these victims experiencing cyberstalking, most often through email and instant messaging.

The Evolution of Cyberstalking

The advent of social media in the early 21st century fueled the rise of cyberstalking, making it easier for perpetrators to access their victims’ personal information and monitor their activities. As technology advanced, so did the tactics cyberstalkers used to harass their victims. In response to the growing threat of cyberstalking, laws and regulations were developed to address this form of online harassment. In the United States, for example, cyberstalking is covered under federal law as part of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005.

Over time, cyberstalking has evolved from a lesser-known issue to a widely recognized crime with serious legal implications. The development of cyberstalking legislation reflects society’s growing awareness of the dangers of online harassment and the need to protect potential victims.

As technology continues to advance, it is crucial to stay informed about the ever-changing landscape of cyberstalking and the laws designed to combat it.

Common Tactics Used by Cyberstalkers

Cyberstalkers employ a range of tactics to harass, intimidate, and threaten their victims. One common tactic is identity theft, where the stalker uses the victim’s personal information, such as their name or social security number, to commit illegal acts. Another common tactic is impersonation, where the stalker creates fake social media profiles or copies existing ones to get closer to their victim.

GPS tracking is another disturbing tactic used by cyberstalkers to monitor their victims’ whereabouts. This technology enables stalkers to keep tabs on their victims at all times, increasing the level of intimidation and control. Doxing, or the act of gathering and publishing someone’s personal information online, is another tactic used by cyberstalkers to harass and intimidate their victims. This could include the victim’s home address, phone number, email address, or even private photos.

Being aware of these common tactics can help potential victims protect themselves from cyberstalkers and take appropriate action if they suspect they are being targeted. It is important to be vigilant about safeguarding personal information online and to be cautious about who we interact with on the internet.

Differentiating Cyberstalking from Cyberbullying

While cyberstalking and cyberbullying both involve online harassment, there are some key differences between the two. Cyberstalking generally involves more focused and persistent behavior towards the victim, while cyberbullying typically involves an imbalance of power and ongoing harm to the victim. The intent of the perpetrator also plays a role in differentiating the two; studies have shown that a single incident might be seen as trolling, but if it’s part of an ongoing pattern, it is more likely to be considered stalking.

The severity and duration of harassment further distinguishes cyberstalking from cyberbullying. Cyberstalking is usually more serious, involving focused and obsessive behavior towards the victim. Additionally, cyberstalking tends to be more persistent, lasting for a longer period of harassment compared to cyberbullying.

Understanding these differences can help individuals identify the type of harassment they might be experiencing and seek the appropriate support and resources.

Age and Target Differences

Cyberbullying and cyberstalking differ in terms of age groups and target demographics. Cyberbullying is most common among 14 and 15-year-olds, with its prevalence decreasing as individuals grow older. In contrast, cyberstalking may involve adults and target specific individuals, as opposed to the wider group of people often targeted in cyberbullying incidents.

Recognizing these differences is crucial in understanding the nature of the harassment and the appropriate interventions needed. It is important to be aware of the signs of both cyberstalking and cyberbullying, as well as the resources available to address each type of harassment.

Legal Distinctions

From a legal perspective, cyberstalking and cyberbullying have distinct definitions and consequences. Cyberstalking generally refers to the repeated use of electronic communications to intimidate or harass someone, while cyberbullying encompasses any form of online harassment. However, the exact legal definitions may vary depending on the jurisdiction, making it essential to familiarize oneself with the specific laws in their area.

The legal repercussions of cyberstalking and cyberbullying can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and other legal solutions. By understanding the legal distinctions between these two forms of online harassment, individuals can better advocate for themselves and seek the appropriate legal assistance if they become a victim.

The Impact of Cyberstalking on Victims

The consequences of cyberstalking can be far-reaching and devastating for victims. They may experience a range of physical, emotional, and psychological effects, including fear, anger, confusion, insomnia, anxiety, distress, depression, PTSD, and even suicidal ideation. The impact of cyberstalking can extend beyond the victim’s mental health, affecting their social life and professional career as well.

In some countries, the prevalence of cyberstalking is alarmingly high. For example, around 50% of women in major cities of India have faced some form of online abuse. Given the serious implications of cyberstalking, it is crucial for victims to seek help and support, whether it be through talking to loved ones, consulting a mental health professional, seeking legal help, or filing a police complaint if they feel they are in danger.

Mental Health Effects

The mental health effects of cyberstalking can be profound and long-lasting. Victims may suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts as a result of the harassment they experience. These feelings can manifest in physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, and other stress-related issues.

To cope with the mental health effects of cyberstalking, victims may seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals. Additionally, engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with cyberstalking. It is important for victims to prioritize their mental well-being and seek help when needed.

Social and Professional Consequences

The impact of cyberstalking on a victim’s social and professional life can be significant. Victims may feel isolated, as their relationships with friends and family are strained due to the constant fear and anxiety associated with the harassment. Furthermore, cyberstalking can have a negative impact on a victim’s reputation, leading to legal and financial issues, and potentially harming job opportunities.

To mitigate the social and professional consequences of cyberstalking, victims should reach out to their support network and seek help from relevant authorities. Maintaining open communication with loved ones, employers, and colleagues can help alleviate some of the social and professional repercussions of cyberstalking. It is vital for victims to take proactive steps to protect themselves and their reputation.

Cyberstalking Laws and Regulations

Cyberstalking laws and regulations have been developed in various jurisdictions to address the growing concern of online harassment. These laws aim to protect potential victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

It is essential to be aware of the laws and regulations related to cyberstalking in your area, as they may vary depending on the jurisdiction. By understanding the legal framework surrounding cyberstalking, individuals can better protect themselves and seek appropriate legal recourse if necessary.

Federal and State Laws in the US

In the United States, cyberstalking is addressed at both the federal and state levels. At the federal level, cyberstalking is a crime under 18 U.S.C. 2261A(2) and is part of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. Cyberstalkers can be punished with fines ranging from $10,000 for a fourth-degree charge to $150,000 for a second-degree charge. Additionally, sentences can vary from 18 months in prison up to ten years.

At the state level, laws addressing cyberstalking may differ. For example, Florida and California have laws that incorporate cyberstalking into their existing stalking laws. It is essential to be familiar with the specific laws in your state, as they may provide additional protections or resources for victims of cyberstalking.

International Approaches to Cyberstalking Legislation

Cyberstalking laws and regulations vary from country to country. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the Protection from Harassment Act (1997) makes stalking and other forms of harassment a criminal offense. In Australia, the Stalking Amendment Act (1999) criminalizes the use of any form of technology to harass someone.

International law also emphasizes a supranational concept in relation to cybercrime, such as the Convention on Cybercrime, which aims to harmonize national laws on cyberstalking and other cybercrimes.

It is crucial for individuals to familiarize themselves with the specific laws and regulations in their country, as well as any relevant international agreements. This knowledge can empower victims to seek appropriate legal assistance and protection, and help raise awareness of the serious nature of cyberstalking worldwide.

Preventing and Responding to Cyberstalking

Preventing and responding to cyberstalking is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of potential victims. By practicing good digital hygiene, individuals can reduce their risk of becoming a target for cyberstalkers. This involves using strong passwords, making sure accounts are set to private, and being cautious about sharing personal information.

If you suspect you are being cyberstalked, it is crucial to take action by documenting evidence, reporting the harassment to the appropriate authorities, and seeking support from loved ones and professionals. Knowing how to prevent cyberstalking and respond if you become a victim can make a significant difference in your overall safety and well-being. By staying informed and taking proactive measures, you can protect yourself and others from the dangers of cyberstalking.

Online Safety Measures

Online safety measures can play a crucial role in preventing cyberstalking. Ensuring that all your online accounts are secure with strong passwords and enabling strong privacy settings can help protect your personal information from cyberstalkers. Additionally, being cautious about sharing personal information online, including your home address, phone number, or date of birth, can further reduce your risk of becoming a cyberstalking victim.

When interacting with strangers online, it is essential to maintain a level of caution and avoid engaging in conversations or sharing personal information. By staying vigilant and practicing good digital hygiene, you can minimize the risk of becoming a target for cyberstalkers.

Reporting Cyberstalking

If you become a victim of cyberstalking, it is vital to report the harassment to the appropriate authorities. This may include local police, your internet service provider, or any social media platforms where the harassment is occurring. When reporting cyberstalking, it is essential to document any evidence of the harassment, such as screenshots of messages, logs of dates and times, and any other relevant information. This evidence can be crucial in building a case against the cyberstalker and ensuring that they are held accountable for their actions.

In addition to reporting cyberstalking to the authorities, it is crucial to seek support from loved ones and professionals, such as mental health professionals or victim support services. By taking action and seeking help, you can protect yourself and others from the harmful effects of cyberstalking.

Real-life Cyberstalking Cases

Real-life cyberstalking cases serve as a stark reminder of the severity and potential consequences of this form of harassment. These cases highlight the devastating impact cyberstalking can have on victims, both emotionally and psychologically, and the importance of taking this issue seriously.

By examining real-life cases, we can gain a better understanding of the tactics used by cyberstalkers, the challenges faced by victims, and the legal and social implications associated with this crime. Sharing real-life examples of cyberstalking cases can help raise awareness about the dangers of cyberstalking and encourage individuals to take preventative measures and seek help if they suspect they are being targeted.

High-Profile Cases

Several high-profile cyberstalking cases have made headlines in recent years, illustrating the severity of this form of harassment and its potential consequences. For example, actress Patricia Arquette quit Facebook in 2011 after being cyberstalked, demonstrating that even celebrities are not immune to this crime. Another tragic case involves the death of Amanda Todd, a Canadian student who was blackmailed and stalked online before taking her own life. This heartbreaking incident underscores the devastating impact cyberstalking can have on victims and their families.

These high-profile cases serve as a sobering reminder of the dangers of cyberstalking and the need for individuals to take this issue seriously. By understanding the potential consequences of cyberstalking, we can work together to raise awareness, support victims, and prevent future incidents.

Lessons Learned from Cyberstalking Cases

Analyzing real-life cyberstalking cases can provide valuable insights into how to prevent future incidents and protect potential victims. For example, these cases demonstrate the importance of reporting cyberstalking to the police and documenting evidence of the harassment. They also highlight the importance of not responding to the stalker’s communications, as this can encourage their behavior and weaken the case against them.

By learning from these cases, we can better understand the tactics used by cyberstalkers, the challenges faced by victims, and the resources available to help those affected by cyberstalking. Armed with this knowledge, we can work together to create a safer online environment for all.


In conclusion, cyberstalking is a serious and growing issue that can have severe consequences on the lives of its victims. By understanding the dangers of cyberstalking, the tactics used by cyberstalkers, and the legal framework surrounding this issue, individuals can better protect themselves and seek appropriate help if needed. By raising awareness about cyberstalking and supporting victims, we can work together to create a safer and more secure online environment for everyone.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is the use of digital technology, such as emails, messages, or social media, to stalk, harass, and threaten another person. Examples of cyberstalking include posting offensive comments online, sending threatening emails, and tracking the victim’s computer and internet use.

What are examples of cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking can take many forms, but two common examples are sending threatening emails or messages and tracking a person’s online or real-world activities.

What defines cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking involves using any electronic communication to threaten, harass or monitor another person. It can involve unwanted emails, text messages, and other online activities designed to cause fear and distress.

How do you know if someone is cyberstalking you?

If you’re worried that someone is cyberstalking you, look out for signs like frequent, unsolicited contact on social media or email, or harassment even when you don’t respond. Cyberstalking can make you feel scared and unsafe, so if you experience any of these things, take action right away.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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