Once you know how to recognize technology-enabled abuse, you’re ready to fight it. During the final week of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Information Technology Services and the Office of Equity Assurance offer tips on how to #BeCyberAware.
First and foremost, trust your instincts. If it seems like a person knows too much about you, they could be monitoring your devices, accessing your accounts, or gathering information online. Follow these steps to combat digital abuse:
Check your devices and settings. Go through your mobile device, apps and online accounts to ensure other devices and accounts aren’t connected to yours. Turn off device-to-device access when you aren’t using it. Confirm which email account is used for backup. Look for spikes in data usage that could indicate monitoring software is in use. Consider the possibility of a hidden device or a camera given as a gift.
Use a “safer” device. If you think someone is monitoring your computer, tablet or phone, use a device the abuser can’t access such as a library computer. Consider purchasing a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go phone. Set up a passcode and don’t link the new device to old cloud accounts you abuser may know about.
Increase your security. Change the username and password for online accounts you think are being accessed, and don’t use the device you suspect is monitored to log in. Consider creating new accounts on a new device, and don’t link old and new accounts. Never use the same password for multiple accounts. Turn off Bluetooth and location-sharing services when not in use.
Document abuse. Save texts, phone calls and voicemails, take screenshots, or create a log with details. Make sure to include date, time, location, suspected technology involved, a brief description, and note any witnesses. Save your evidence in multiple places, and even consider physical locations.
Plan for your personal safety. Throwing away devices, closing accounts and otherwise ending an abuser’s access could escalate their behavior. Before you throw away a camera or GPS tracker, think about how the abuser might respond and be sure you have a plan for your physical well-being, including an ally and a safe place to go.
If you or someone you know is experiencing technology enabled abuse or harassment, first ensure your own safety and the safety of others. Call 911 in emergency situations.
Abuse or harassment can be reported to the University Police Department at 304-293-3136 or to other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the crime. Students, faculty and staff can also report abuse and harassment to the University by calling the Equity assurance and Title IX office at 304-293-5600 or by filing a report at: https://diversity.wvu.edu/equity-assurance/resources-and-reporting-options.
The Office of Equity Assurance and the legal system work independently, but in coordination. You may file a report with the University, law enforcement, with both or with neither. The standards for determining a violation of criminal law are different than the standard in WVU’s grievance procedures. Neither the results of a criminal investigation nor the decision of law enforcement on whether to investigate determines whether a violation of the University’s policy has occurred.