Technology has massive benefits, particularly in a year where we have seen lockdowns and self-isolation, but for people experiencing domestic abuse, there is a risk it can be used to make their situation worse and increase harm.
Modern technology has entertained us in a time of isolation, kept us in touch with friends and family and up to date with the pandemic. It can give perpetrators of domestic abuse, however, a way to stalk, isolate and control their victims further.
This guide’, provides top tips on how you can keep your technology secure, stay safe online and reduce the risk of technologically facilitated abuse.
The advice will help you stay safe online and protect your passwords to stop anyone from accessing your emails, mobile phone, social media or other online accounts.
- Use long, strong and unique passwords using letters, numbers and characters
- Have a different password for each account or device so if one is compromised, your others are safe
- Don’t make it easy – avoid choices, such as names, places, date of birth etc.
- Check your password hasn’t been compromised in a data breach which may mean it’s findable online – www.haveibeenpwned.com
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA) which adds an extra layer of security to your social media/email accounts and devices, as anyone trying to log in would need a second form of authentication, such as a code generated by or sent to your phone.
- The use of an authentication app for 2FA is much safer than text messages as the code does not last as long.
- Check your social media accounts to see what is being shared and with whom.
- Avoid ‘checking in’ or tagging locations in photos as these may allow someone to work out your routine and where you’re likely to be at a given time.
- Your email account can often be used to reset passwords for your accounts, which could allow someone to log in to them, so make sure it’s protected with a long, strong and unique password.
- Be vigilant of any signs your device has been compromised, such as running slowly or finding apps or messages have been opened.
- Download and install operating system and app updates as soon as they become available as these often contain fixes for any security issues or vulnerabilities.
- Make sure they are not linked to an account someone else has access to.
- Check the specifications and reviews of devices before you purchase them to check which privacy and security measures you can put in place to keep them as safe as possible.
- Change your internet banking passcode/password if you believe the perpetrator may know or be able to guess this and avoid any obvious or guessable choices like birthdays or anniversaries.
- Be wary of any texts or emails that look like they’ve come from your bank, these could be phishing attempts to get personal or security information such as your passcode/password, etc.
If not locked down, technology can be used to take intimate images of victims against their permission and to intimidate and humiliate them. Abusers can also gain access to a victim’s personal technology devices, online email and social media accounts.
Tracking apps, covert CCTV, listening devices, key tracking software and the checking of all calls and texts are just some of the ways victims have been controlled.
Perpetrators of domestic abuse use technology along with other types of domestic abuse that people will experience, it is a way of coercing, controlling, psychologically and emotionally abusing.