You may have read my previous two posts on this threat which I titled “Social Media and the Cyberbully: How to Protect Your Privacy Online” and “Get Prepared: Three Types of Online Harassment.” This is my third and final blog (for now!) on the topic. All three are based on the presentation I gave at the ASIS International 62nd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Orlando, Florida in September.

Online Harassment Can Escalate – and Pose a True Threat

How do we recommend that you counter the risks associated with online intimidation and humiliation, stalking and sexual predation and threats of violence? While most harassing behavior online is merely annoying, in some cases, it can be dangerous to both children and adults, men and women, employees and executives and even the reputations of individuals and corporations. Knowing when to flag this kind of aggressiveness as unacceptable – and what to do if and when it persists and escalates – can help mitigate its truly serious physical and mental effects on the victim.

Three Recommendations on Managing the Risks of Cyberbullying and Harassment

  1. Identify the source and motivation of the attacks. The first step in managing online harassment is to attempt to pinpoint who is behind the aggressive messages, why the victim may have been chosen as a target and what the aggressor may want.
  2. Assess the scope of the threat and the risks that may be posed. Was the harassment short-lived and relatively benign, or has it increased in frequency and aggressiveness and escalated to threats of harm? Knowing when the harassment has crossed a red line can help ensure the victim receives appropriate help in resolving the matter, if and when needed.
  3. Understand the options and resources available. If the attacks have persisted, increased in aggressiveness or generally made the victim fear for his or her safety, intervention may be necessary. Laws for online harassment vary from state to state, but local law enforcement authorities are quickly becoming more equipped to address these situations. Experts in threat assessment can also be leveraged when an online threat is identified.

For More Information

To learn more about the avenues that are available for preventing, mitigating and managing abuse online, I encourage you read the third 360 Insight Executive Briefing in this series, “When Cyber Predators Attack” as well as the first two publications: “Security, Privacy and Social Media” and “The Shadow of Online Harassment.

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