by May 1, 2012 0 comments

It’s actually scary to see how the younger generation today openly shares what’s happening in their lives on social networking sites. Photos, videos, personal information are all openly shared with family and friends, and privacy settings are not taken as seriously as they should, despite repeated warnings from everywhere that it’s unsafe to ignore them. This is only natural because ‘everyone’ does that, so what could possibly happen if you also do the same thing? That’s where the problem is, because security incidents won’t give you a warning before coming. This is what happened to a person we know, who told us her story on the condition that her identity would not be disclosed. Here’s what happened, most of which is in her own words, except for minor edits by us…

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The incident happened way back in 2009. Though Facebook and Twitter existed, I used Orkut actively because my entire friend circle was on it. I had created my own profile, started scrapping, uploading pictures, changing profile pics and every other normal activity a person would do on that networking site. I had her privacy settings in place just enough so that people were not able to view my photos and scraps. However, my testimonies, basic info and friends list were visible to all and sundry.

The incident

All was going hunky-dory until one day, I got a call from an unknown person claiming to be my fan. At first I thought it was a prank call, but later when he identified himself as a football player and the fact that he came across my Orkut profile, did I realize that this guy was a complete stranger. Upon probing, he honestly said that after visiting my Orkut profile, he studied who my friends were, befriended one of them and somehow managed to get my phone number. I still have no idea who was this unfaithful friend of mine, who disclosed my personal details to a stranger.

The result

From then on, his calls never stopped. I started getting at least 20 missed calls from him every day. There were times when I would take his calls to give him a piece of my mind, but all in vain. Later, I changed my job and just wrote a scrap ‘New workplace’. Now, as per my security settings, people who are not my friends CANNOT see anything except my profile pic and basic details. Within a week’s time, he called from a new number and asked how was my new job going on!!! That really alarmed me and I started involving my friends to threaten him, for then, the whole concept of cyber police was new and rather unknown.

Legal Advice on Cyber Stalking

Adv. Prashant Mali, Cyber Laws Expert

If the incident described in this article happened now, then the affected person should complain to the nearest police station or to the cyber cell setup at all district levels. The police will then check if this crime is covered under Section 66-A, 66-C of The Information Technology Act, 2000 and also Section 509 of the IPC. Post this, further proceedings will involve determining the following:

1. The IP address of the place where the account was created.
2. The IP address from where the communication was made or the message was sent.
3. Call data record (CDR) of the calling number is asked from mobile operators.

The dos and don’ts

Don’t ever put too much personal details on Facebook, Google+, Linkedin or other social networking sites, as they might get misused.

Always make two kinds of online presence: A professional presence for your colleagues and clients and a private presence meant for socializing, with some online identity which consists of a dummy profile photo and details.

Do not reveal your mother’s name or your personal tastes, distastes, hobbies which can be used to profile you and segregate you for targeted cyber crimes.

Don’t ever post your personal memoirs like snaps, where you are partying or where you are on vacation. This helps to further profile you.

How it was resolved

I deleted my Orkut account and changed my mobile number. Plus, I also made it a point to share it only with the closest of friends and bluntly denied sharing it with acquaintances or colleagues (with whom an occasion would never arise wherein they’d have to call me for official purposes). Today my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts have high security settings and I also make it a point NOT to divulge much detail about my activities or movements on these sites.

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