Cyber stalking is generally defined as the use of the internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group, or an organization and is associated mostly with adults, though some elements cross over to the youth population which often creates confusion and misdefintion. There is overlap in the meaning of cyberbullying and cyberstalking in that they both may involve harassment, false accusations, defamation, invasion of privacy, slander and libel. However, what distinguishes cyberstalking from other forms of cyber-crime is that it usually includes a component of insidiously invading the life of a target which typically requires a higher level of sophistication. Aside from shadowing someone on social network sites and other public forums, cyber stalkers will often attempt to obtain personal information about a target which may include contacting employers, associates, friends, and family under various manipulative guises in an effort to gather or invent as much damaging material as possible that can then be leveraged against the victim.
Cyber stalkers almost always act anonymously, often soliciting the involvement of others online to assist them in carrying out abusive attacks and spread false information about their targets. Several tools are utilized by the cyberstalker such as the psychological “wearing down” of a victim by taunting threats of widespread public humiliation. Their actions can escalate to threats, identity theft, solicitation for sex, reputation assassination, and is often accompanied by virtual or offline stalking.