Online privacy guide for women

Ruth C. | March 08, 2023

Online privacy is crucial for everyone, especially for women who face unique challenges and risks online. From online harassment and cyberstalking to doxing, women are often more vulnerable than men to various privacy violations.

In this guide, we'll cover some of the key online privacy and safety challenges women face and the most important steps they can take to protect themselves on the internet.

Privacy risks women face online

Online harassment is a pervasive privacy risk that affects women more than men. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, women are more likely than men to experience online harassment due to their gender, including sexual harassment and stalking. 

Online harassment includes everything from trolling and cyberbullying to threats of violence and hate speech. Women are often targeted with misogynistic language and threats of sexual violence, which can cause emotional and psychological harm. Online harassment can also spill over into the physical world, leading to stalking and other forms of violence.

Another challenge encountered by women online is doxing. Doxing is the act of gathering and publishing someone's personal information, such as their home address, phone number, or email address, without their consent. Women are often targeted for doxing because they are more likely to be vocal about issues related to gender and sexuality. 

Sometimes that personal information may be non-consensual intimate imagery. According to the Cyber Rights Organization, 90% of victims of the distribution of non-consensual intimate imagery are women, with male perpetrators often threatening and targeting them across various online platforms such as chat groups, webpages, and social media.

Additionally, women are more susceptible to online dating scams, making them more vulnerable in the digital dating world. According to the data provided by Norton, romance scams are the second most dangerous type of online fraud for women following online purchase scams.

Tips for keeping safe online

Although the internet poses many risks for women, some steps can be taken to protect their privacy and safety while online.

On social media: 

  1. Be selective about what you post. Think carefully about what you post online and who can see it. Avoid sharing sensitive personal information like your home address or your phone number.
  2. Avoid posting location information. Be cautious about posting location information on social media, as it can be used to identify your whereabouts.
  3. Adjust your privacy settings. Review and adjust your privacy settings on each social media platform you use. This can help you control who can see your posts, profile information, and activity.
  4. Review your friends list. Review your friends list regularly and remove anyone you don't know or don't feel comfortable sharing information with.
  5. Think before you accept friend requests. Be cautious about accepting friend requests from people you don't know, even if they seem friendly or familiar.

When it comes to online dating:

  1. Take precautions for online communication. Be careful with what you share over messages, emails, or phone calls. Don't send any sensitive photos or information. Avoid sharing your full name or other personal information until you've built trust with the person. Also, consider using a separate email address or phone number for online dating. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, end the communication and report any inappropriate behavior to the dating site.
  2. Trust your instincts. If something seems off or too good to be true, it may be a red flag. Use the information you find online to help inform your decision about whether to continue communicating with the person.

Other general safety tips:

  1. Use strong passwords. Use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, and enable two-factor authentication if possible to avoid your accounts getting hacked and your information leaked.
  2. Use a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be a valuable tool to help protect your privacy online. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet, which helps to shield your online activity from prying eyes.
  3. Review what data about you is already available online. Conduct a search of your name and any other personal information you may have shared online, such as your email address or phone number. Use search engines like Google or Bing to search for this information. By checking what data is already available about you online, you can better understand what personal information may be at risk and take steps to protect your privacy. If needed, you can employ data removal services that may help to eliminate unwanted information from the web.

All in all, women face significant privacy and security risks when using the internet. From cyber stalking to online harassment, the challenges are many and varied. However, by being aware of online threats and taking steps to protect themselves, women can enjoy a safer, more secure online experience.

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Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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