Cyberbullying: Consequences and Security Risks

Patrick Putman

Internet trolls seem impossible to avoid. They occupy everything from social media to online gaming. But sometimes harmless trolling quickly turns into something more. Cyberbullying is a form of harassment that takes place over phones, text messages, and the internet. Cyberbullying is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. It even has direct links to cybersecurity and social engineering.

Crossing the Line

In extreme cases, cyberbullying can lead to suicide. I was a victim of schoolyard bullying. But this was before cellphones or the internet. As soon as I came home it stopped, and I was able to escape. In today’s age however, children have social media and text messaging. Bullies can harass their victims in their own homes at all hours of the day. They are able to spread vicious rumors instantly. Pictures and photoshopped images can be used to humiliate and shame the victim.

Those who say words can not hurt have never been on the receiving end of verbal abuse. The wrong words can leave a lasting impression. Especially if someone is going through difficult times or is already suffering from mental issues. In many cases, the victim believes the only escape is through suicide.

 Implications to Cybersecurity

In addition to mental health, cyberbullying can have a number of serious impacts on cybersecurity. For example, my nephew loves to play the online game Roblox. But the game is full of trolls, bullies, and even hackers. Someone breached his account and took it over. The hacker then proceeded to harass, intimidate, and bully his girlfriend. This poses a risk to personal and school accounts, even home networks.

However, cyberbullying is not limited to children on gaming sites. It can happen to adults as well. For example, I was the victim of a cyberbullying situation. After a few weeks, the situation escalated. While chatting on messenger, my Yahoo account suddenly logged out. I received a notice that someone had logged into my account from an unusual location. The hacker then messaged me on social media, confessing that he cracked my account. It was the cyberbully that had been harassing me. Fortunately, with the help of support I was able to recover my account.

Cyberbullying doesn’t just happen on social media by persons unknown. People are often pressured or bullied into giving their account information by others in their life. Bosses keep track of your online activity. Significant others snoop through your phone or laptop. Social engineers use these scare tactics to destabilize your cybersecurity and threaten your sense of privacy and digital autonomy.

Protecting Yourself From Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying will always be an issue. But the best thing you can do is resist engaging with it. Seeking out a support system is imperative to both your emotional safety and cyber safety. Children can confide in a teacher, parent, or friend. Adults can use therapists, friends, or coworkers they trust. Additionally, there are reporting options on Facebook to help mitigate shady behaviors. Actions such as blackmailing, bullying, and phishing are bannable offenses on most social media platforms.

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