What Can Women do to Protect Themselves from Online Attacks?

Creating your online identity and protecting it is easier said than done. For the billions of women who hope to freely enjoy online platforms and build platonic and romantic relationships, there is a lot more than what to set your profile picture to consider. Online scams have unfortunately become a part of everyday life. With so much money and personal data being lost as a result of the sneaky tactics to exploit personal data, there is an outcry for something to be done and for these platforms to do more to protect their users. It is of course not just women who are subjected to cyber scams, with males losing more than twice the amount of money that is lost to women, however, women are more heavily targeted for more sinister scams that involve harassment and sexual forms of blackmail.

What are women being targeted for?

There are many dangerous online attacks that women face. Sometimes they are less personal and are for the simple objective of stealing money, but other forms can be more personal, and threaten their livelihood and overall identity. 

Romance scams 

If you are yet to hear of romance scams, there is a lot to unpack. They are a seemingly unsuspecting scam which is heavily centred around the attention of online dating and dating apps. The scammers search for their victims online through the applications, posing with a fake profile and story. Telling their ladies looking for love exactly what they want to hear, they gain their trust and attention and then swindle them into passing over money or personal information. 

Romance scammers of course have favourite lines to look out for, but they usually go down the ˜sob story™ route and pull on the heartstrings of the unfortunate lady who just wants to help. From life inheritance to crypto, dating scammers will take everything they can and differ from the face of the earth. Also, these scammers may lure you into sharing explicit photos to use against you, and in exchange for keeping them private, they demand money. Romance scams can be devastating, with 50% of women being the main targets for them.

Crypto scams 

If you are a crypto queen who knows how to secure a return by using digital currency, kudos to you! Unfortunately, there are a lot of women who are being lured into crypto scams as a result of misunderstanding and trusting the wrong people. Crypto scams can also be an extension of romance scams, with unsuspecting women falling victim to their online romances' requests to invest in fake crypto pots. This story highlights how dating scams and crypto can be detrimental if online users are not careful and do not educate themselves. Whilst there is crypto recovery available for the victims, it is still wiser to report and avoid the ordeal altogether.

Online sexual harassment 

On the streets and online, sexual harassment is an ongoing issue that many women face. It was recorded by the Council of Europe that 46% of women have reported sexism and sexual harassment online. These unwanted interactions, unfortunately, aim to make women feel belittled, objectified, and harassed by persistent communication and attempts at making contact through various platforms. In many cases, it can make women feel unsafe, and also create anxiety through using the platforms freely and harassment-free as intended.

What can be done?

These are just a few of the most prevalent scams that women have been primarily targeted for in recent years. With more developments in technology and security, it would be assumed that more could be done to protect the personal data and privacy of women online. Alas, it does need to be addressed if personal profiles are lacking in some of the foundational security measures. Here are a few to implement onto your profile if you haven't done so already.

Private profiles 

If you are currently using social media with public platforms, you may wish to make your profile private instead of public. Whilst it would be best to address the cause of the issue itself and remove the scamming and unlawful accounts from the platforms, it is very easy to pose as a seemingly innocent account looking to make connections. 

Not sending personal data to strangers 

If you have been talking to someone online that you have never met, you should never send them personal information, money or images that belong to you. Even if that someone seems to be legitimate, unless you have met them in person and know they exist, don™t risk it.

Changing passwords regularly 

We are all guilty of keeping the same passwords for the same thing, but all it takes is some simple information extraction and a few password trials for scammers to access your accounts and information. Try to change your passwords for your most important applications at least every 6 months, and watch out for signs of people fishing for information.

Report and block

If someone has been trying to get in touch with you, or you are being harassed in any way shape or form, block them. There's no time for being nice when a stranger is showing inappropriate behaviour towards you, and remember you owe them nothing! Online conversations do not validate their identity, so stay vigilant. 

Trust your gut

When you know, you know! Trusting your gut is important in these situations. For romance scams for example, sometimes you may try to commence yourself. There is not something fishy about that person, even though all the red flags are in plain sight. Listen to your gut instinct even if you like the person. It's not worth someone having control over your information!

Author

amy-jones

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