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How to Defend Yourself from Cyber Abuse

With the rise of highly sophisticated technology and social media, it seems the world is our oyster. We can purchase practically anything our hearts desire with the click of a button and our phones can guide to any destination. Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a price for domestic violence survivors. Technological advancements have a dark side that can unleash harm in the form of cyber stalking and cyber harassment. In response, Laura's House has partnered the cybersecurity firm Tevora, to educate its staff and clients with the tools to protect against online abuse.

At Laura's House, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in cyber abuse. Technology evolves quickly, allowing abusers to target their victims by utilizing tracking devices, spyware to monitor electronic communications and social media platforms to frighten, harass or stalk them. Over the course of the next several weeks, we are going to share how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this form of abuse.

The Growing Cyber Abuse Problem

NPR recently surveyed over Seventy U.S. domestic violence shelters and saw an alarming trend: Eighty-Five percent of the shelters surveyed work directly with victims whose abusers tracked them using GPS. Seventy-Five percent work with victims whose abusers listened in on their conversations remotely using hidden mobile apps, commonly referred to as spyware.

These findings are consistent with the experiences of Laura's House clients. Clients frequently report that their abuser is able to track them or knows things about their lives that are confidential. Very often, the reason is traced back to some form of cyber stalking or hacking of a device like a phone or computer. Domestic Violence non-profits like Laura's House simply do not have the expertise or resources to adequately help survivors prevent or respond to threats. Fortunately, we were able to partner with Tevora, a leading expert in cybersecurity, to meet this threat head on.

Tevora's Director of Incident Response, Matt Mosely, provided our staff with on-site training, presentations and toolkits to help us understand how to effectively respond to the cyber stalking, hacking, malware, scams and online harassment our clients experience. He shared tips for browsing online privately to seek help without detection, how to recognize if your phone has been hacked or if you're being tracked, and how to protect yourself on social media and email, to name a few. These resources and new skills have empowered Laura's House to help clients facing technology abuse to take proper precautions and to ensure their online activity is performed safely. Moreover, our partnership with Tevora allows us to share these tools with a larger audience.

Cyber Abuse Defense Toolkit

Over the next few weeks, we will publish several blog posts dedicated to cyber abuse protection and cybersecurity safety. If you or someone you know is a target of cyber abuse, these tools can help. We will share general cybersecurity best practices as well as practical tips you can implement to:

  • Recognize if your social media or email has been hacked and secure your accounts
  • Detect any spyware or malware on your personal device, which can be used to eavesdrop on personal conversations and online activity
  • Browse online privately when seeking help to ensure your tracks are covered
  • Detect any signs you are being tracked and stop it immediately

As we continue to move toward a virtual world, abuse perpetrated via technology has become increasingly commonplace and sophisticated. To adequately serve their clients, domestic violence agencies have no choice but to develop strategies to respond to these threats. It is imperative that domestic violence agencies partner with companies like Tevora, which are uniquely positioned to meet this critical need and ensure domestic violence survivors can lives free of violence in real life and virtually.