The Privacy Lawyer: Don't Wait Until An Employee Is Cyberstalked Before You Act - InformationWeek
01:21 PM
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

The Privacy Lawyer: Don't Wait Until An Employee Is Cyberstalked Before You Act

Make sure you're able to log intrusions and communications in real time and capture IP addresses of correspondents, Parry Aftab says.

Cyberstalking in the workplace is a growing problem. How well protected are you?

What would you do if an employee came to you and told you she was being cyberstalked and cyberharassed at work? Who within the company would you inform? What would you tell the employee? What actions would you instruct the IT department to take? Like all online risks in the workplace, the time to think about this is before something like this happens, not after.

Cyberstalking comes in many forms. It might carry a veiled threat, as in an E-mail that reads: "I know where you live," or "I know the way your children walk home from school." A stalker might also post offensive messages about the victim or, by guessing or sniffing the victim's password, masquerade as the victim and send threatening or inappropriate E-mails to co-workers or the victim's supervisors. Or in that guise the stalker might post comments on the Internet that do harm to the victim's workplace, such as informing a chat group that the stalker has access to customers' account numbers or that the company's CEO is molesting his teenage son. (Visible, Vulnerable Target is a story of one cyberstalking victim's plight.)

To make sure you're in a proactive rather than reactive position, you need to do some due diligence before a cyberstalker targets one of your employees. Ask yourself:

  • Does your acceptable-Internet-use policy refer to cyberstalking and online threats?

  • Do you use monitoring software to capture incoming and outgoing online communications with employees?

  • Do you capture IP addresses of correspondents?

  • When an employee leaves the company, do you immediately block his access to the intranet or group E-mail addresses within the company?

  • Can you log intrusions and communications in real time?

  • Does your sexual-harassment policy reference Internet communications?

Just as most employers are addressing workplace-safety and crime-prevention issues, they must address cyberstalking as well. It may be the precursor to an offline attack of an employee or the beginning of attacks against a company or that company's executives.

Providing a safer work environment isn't only good risk management, it's good human-resource management and a morale booster.

Parry Aftab is a cyberspace lawyer, specializing in online privacy and security law, and she's also executive director of WiredSafety. She hosts the Web site and blogs regularly at

Continue to the sidebars: Understanding The Cyberharassment Problem and
Tips To Avoid Cyberstalking

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit the Talk Shop.

To find out more about Parry Aftab, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll