Cyberstalking: A Growing Threat in the Digital Age

person using MacBook Pro, cybercrimes, cybersecurity, cyberstalking

In an era dominated by technology and interconnectedness, the dark underbelly of the digital world has given rise to a menace known as cyberstalking.

This pervasive threat poses a significant challenge to personal privacy, online security, and psychological well-being, with victims facing an array of distressing consequences.

What is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is the use of electronic communications to harass or intimidate a person.

It can take many forms, including sending unwanted messages, posting embarrassing or threatening content online, or tracking a person’s movements. Cyberstalking can have a devastating impact on victims, causing them to feel isolated, unsafe, and even suicidal.

Cyberattacks, cybercrimes, cyberstalking

Recent Cyberstalking Case

A recent cyberstalking case in Baltimore, Maryland, highlights the serious nature of this crime. Michael Ghali, age 35, of Fairfax, Virginia, pleaded guilty to a federal cyberstalking charge, related to sexually explicit and threatening messages and emails he sent to two victims.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Ghali began sending sexually explicit and threatening text messages to Victim 1 in June 2020.

He also sent a series of emails to Victim 2, the head of a medical department at a Baltimore-based hospital. In the emails, Ghali accused Victim 2 of sexually abusing employees and minors. And threatened to send purported photos of the abuse to the press.

As a result of the threatening messages, both victims took steps to protect themselves. Victim 1 obtained a protective order against Ghali, and Victim 2 hired a professional security detail and changed his schedules.

On August 25, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Ghali’s residence and seized a number of electronic devices, including two Apple iPhones and three boxes of .44 caliber ammunition.

A subsequent review of Ghali’s phone revealed another social media page he had created in which he posted photos of individuals, including Victim 1, with sexually explicit captions.

On August 28, 2020, Ghali obtained a new Apple iPhone and, in violation of the protective orders that were in place, sent Victim 1 and Victim 2 additional messages and emails. He also posted sexually explicit and threatening messages regarding Victim 1 to another of his social media pages.

Ghali faces a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison. He’s also staring at a maximum of five years in prison for cyberstalking. Ghali is awaiting sentencing on November 28, 2023.

What to do if you are being cyberstalked

Here are some tips to protect yourself from cyberstalking:

  • Save all evidence of the cyberstalking, including messages, emails, and screenshots.
  • Report the cyberstalking to the appropriate authorities, such as the police or your internet service provider.
  • Block the cyberstalker from contacting you.
  • Change your online passwords and security settings.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what is happening.

Cyberstalking is a serious crime with serious consequences. If you are being cyberstalked, please take action to protect yourself. If you know someone who is being cyberstalked, encourage them to seek help.

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