internet safety guide for women

The Ultimate Internet Safety Guide for Women in 2024

Last update: April 10, 2023

Women face unique online threats from sexual harassment and stalking. The best ways to stay safe are to block and report harassers, maintain a paper trail, and use a VPN to keep your online identity private. I recommend ExpressVPN — you can try it for free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The internet is a wondrous place. It’s where we research, shop and connect with friends and family. However, the internet can be a dangerous place in the wrong hands. That’s why I put together this internet safety guide for women.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, women are more likely than men to experience violent crimes such as rape and sexual assault. But the danger doesn’t stop when you log on to the internet, with teenage girls disproportionately being affected by cyberbullying. 

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Unfortunately, cyber harassment and other cybercrimes are among the least reported and prosecuted crimes in the world. We have to learn how to stay safe online. This internet safety guide for women will provide more information for those who want to know more about how to protect themselves online.

Internet Safety Guide for Women: Tips for Staying Safe

Being a woman online can be hard. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to put up with creepy messages from strangers or dick pics from creepy dudes. 

Sadly, that’s not all we have to worry about. If anyone has ever gone through a dumpster-fire end to a romance, you might have even faced the threat of revenge porn or had your physical safety threatened.

But now that technology has evolved to the point where we can carry around computers in our pockets, there are a few things you can do to make your experiences on the internet safer.

How to Stop Social Media Harassment

Social media is a great way to get in touch with friends and family, but it can also be a haven for harassment and bullying on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

When people are harassed online, many don’t know what to do or where to turn. It’s not something as simple as having strong passwords and two-factor authentication to protect you — it’s public and it’s personal.

Unfortunately, social media networks often take little action to prevent or stop online harassment. As a result, victims of harassment may be left feeling powerless and frustrated by the lack of available options.

However, there are measures that you can take if you find yourself being harassed on social media.

1. Create Separate Personal and Public Accounts

Social media is a minefield for women. Women, girls and other marginalized groups have been harassed and doxxed on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. 

In addition to removing your information from online directories and public domains, another way to protect yourself is to separate what you share online from what you share privately with friends and family.

While this approach isn’t a cure-all, I recommend creating separate personal and professional accounts for your own cyber safety. This is a big step that can solve some big problems.

Having personal accounts helps you feel safe when you want to spend time online. Your personal accounts can be shared only with people who already know you in real life, and blocking users or restricting access through your account settings is a good measure.

Having one profile is easier for people who are already following you to find everything about you in one place, but the internet does not owe anyone access to you or your work when that access comes at the expense of your safety or peace of mind.

2. Change Your Privacy Settings

One of the easiest ways for someone to harass you on social media is for them to be able to find you in the first place.

Everyone needs to be careful of what information they put up on social media sites because anyone who knows how to find such sensitive information can use it against you.

So if you don’t want everyone to see your posts, you should change your privacy settings accordingly so only your friends can see them.

You can do this by going to your account security and privacy settings on the relevant social media app. 

Some social media sites let you make your username unsearchable, so you won’t come up in searches for people you don’t know. You may also be able to stop your social media profile from coming up in Google searches for your name by going to the settings for the relevant social platform.

3. Report and Block Other Users for Harassment

Users who harass or bully others online can be blocked and reported to the platform. Different social media platforms enable blocking and the ability to “flag” a user with their internal teams.

While these sites have created tools to help women deal with this problem — blocking, muting, and reporting harassment — these tools only provide a temporary stop to the experience.

While women can block potential abusers and harassers from their feeds and report them to moderators — who may ban them from the sites for good — this does not necessarily end the harassment.

Bullies can always create a new account or fake profile to continue the name-calling or stay in contact, so women should be aware of that too.

4. Don’t Share Your Location

When you’re a woman online, you learn pretty quickly that any social media profile you have is public. Even if you have your settings on “private,” your face and name and basic demographic information are out there for anyone to see.

One of the most important things as a woman online is to avoid sharing your location. In the days before Snapchat made it easy to share your location with friends (and strangers), women often did this by “checking in” to a location on Facebook.

Avoid sharing your location, even accidentally, by disabling geolocation settings, and turning off location services and online activity when using social media apps to prevent geolocation tracking.

How to Avoid Getting Doxxed

Getting doxxed means having your personal information exposed online, usually by an anonymous source. The slang term comes from the word “documents,” as in, someone posting your private documents online. This can include everything from your address and phone number to social security number and bank account information.

For women, this is an issue because they are often targeted by online bullies who find their personal information and use it against them. Here’s how you can avoid the threat.

1. Use a VPN

Women using modern tech are often vulnerable to doxxing if their real IP addresses are exposed. One solution to that problem is using a VPN (virtual private network).

Using a VPN adds an extra layer of safety when you visit websites. 

A VPN allows you to access the internet from a private network. This means that your IP address can’t be easily traced back to you, making it much more difficult to find your location and identity on the web.

You’ll still have an IP address, but it will be different from your real one and belong to the VPN service you use. You won’t need to worry about someone discovering your location if they trace back the IP address visiting their site because it will be the location of the VPN service you signed up for, not yours.

There are many free VPN services available online, but they tend not to offer as many features as paid VPNs like ExpressVPN or NordVPN. ProtonVPN and Windscribe are great free VPN options for security-minded women on a budget.

2. Scrub Your Online Information

When the troll army descends on a woman, they will do their best to dig up information about her (e.g., old blog posts and past tweets). They’ll try to find anything they can use to discredit her.

What can you do if you are a woman who has published a lot online? Go through everything and scrub anything that shares private information or anything embarrassing. This is more than just a good idea; it’s necessary. Trolls will find the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever said and put it up for everyone to see.

This is not an easy task. If you have a very active online persona, it can take much longer, but it’s worth it, considering what the alternative would be.

3. Make Sure Your Data Hasn’t Leaked

A woman needs to know when her data has leaked online. If she doesn’t, she can easily be doxxed by a cyberbully, and women are more likely to be doxxed than men.

To prevent being doxxed, you need to take care of your information. Your information can be anywhere on the Internet: social media, job sites, credit cards, etc. So you need to check them all.

There are several ways to check if your data has been leaked online. One of the easiest ways is to use a site like, which will tell you if your email address appears in any publicly available passwords or data breach events.

If you find that your name is listed there, it may be time to change your password and monitor your social media profiles more closely.

4. Use a Data Removal Service

There is a new way for women to protect themselves from threats on the internet: data removal services. These services help you take down photos and posts that you have made online in the past.

They allow you to remove any personal data that could be used against you and stop people from finding it again in future searches.

Data removal services are a good idea if you’ve been hacked or if you already have reason to believe someone might be out to dox you, but they’re not perfect. If you want to use them, you’ll need some extra money in your pocket and lots of time on your hands.

How to Stop Online Sexual Harassment at Work

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a lot of people have been talking about how to prevent sexual harassment at work. Women also need to ensure they know what measures to take should they find themselves victims of harassment online.

According to the United Nations, women face threats of sexual harassment in the workplace and in public spaces. But as more people work remotely during the pandemic, they’re often harassed online too.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that women are more likely to face online sexual harassment than men. With the move to hybrid work environments, in which people work from home some days and in an office other days, women should be up to date on what they can do.

1. Create a Paper Trail

When you have clear evidence of sexual harassment, it’s easier to prove your case. The company has to choose between the harasser and the people being harrassed, and that’s an easy decision: They take action against the harasser. But what if the evidence is vague or nonexistent? What then?

The obvious solution is to put a paper trail in place now before anything happens, so you can prove your case later if you need to. This will seem like overkill now when everything seems fine. It won’t seem like overkill when you need it.

What kind of paper trail should you create?

2. Make a Report

If this incident happens at work, they should report it to the person in charge of the organization’s online harassment program, which is usually a human resources officer.

When women report and submit a written statement, they should be as detailed as possible with their names and telephone numbers.

Once women provide evidence that someone has sent them inappropriate messages, emails or any other digital communication, it is easier for HR to cope with the situation.

Usually, women are encouraged to act immediately without responding directly to the harasser’s comments and messages. But sometimes, the harasser’s behavior may persist even if ignored. 

In this case, women should try to keep any records of communications with their harassers and let HR know about it so that they can take further action such as warning, firing or even taking legal action if necessary.

3. Lawyer Up

Many women are surprised at how little protection they have under the law, particularly when it comes to sexual harassment. The absence of explicit protections has left many victims in an untenable position.

One of the most important things a woman can do in this situation is hire a lawyer and press her case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation), race, color, religion or national origin. This law protects both employees and job applicants from sexual harassment in the workplace.

Title VII also requires employers to maintain reasonable policies and practices that make it clear that sexual harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Women’s Online Dating Internet Safety

In an age of online dating, it’s not uncommon for women to meet people on apps like Tinder and Bumble. However, a new study has found that women are at risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.

Although everyone is at risk of being targeted by cybercriminals, a recent study conducted by Norton concluded that women are more likely to be targeted in romance scams, especially when on dating apps. Learn how to protect yourself while looking for love today.

1. Research Anyone You Match With

The key to successful online dating is to trust your gut. And it’s much easier to do so when you’ve done your due diligence. It’s not always possible to know whether or not you’re being catfished, but there are ways to figure out if your online fling has more substance than style.

Research potential matches. When you find someone you may want to match with online, do a little digging first. 

Check out the person on social media and Google them too (yes, we know this is stalkerish, but it’s healthy stalkerish). You want to make sure that this person is actually real before proceeding any further.

2. Don’t Share Secrets Right Away

It can be tempting for women looking for love today to give away too much information about themselves before getting to know their potential partners. You can trust too easily too fast and end up giving more information than you should to a match you don’t know for sure is safe yet.

It is always better to be cautious about online dating and romance, so don’t go ahead and reveal everything about yourself right away. Don’t give out your personal information immediately, and don’t be afraid to say no if your match asks. It’s your right.

The same goes for your private photos. Don’t just send them without thinking twice, even if you get caught up in the heat of the moment.

3. Meet Face-To-Face

Tinder and other dating apps are trying to weed out scammers by adding in-app video chats. But their users can’t always tell that the person on the other end of the line is real.

Catfishing is a deceptive activity where someone creates a fake online identity to pursue deceptive online romances. And it’s not just catfishers who cause problems.

Some predators use dating apps or social media to trick people into sending them money. Child-exploitation rings have also used social media and dating apps to find victims, and there are cases of sexual assault involving dating apps as well.

It’s always best to confirm the person’s identity by arranging a video call before meeting them IRL. If they’re reluctant to do so or make excuses, they might be catfishing you. 

Keep in mind that nowadays, you can fake your phone’s camera output to play a prerecorded video. So make sure the call is more than a minute long, and it’s not just canned footage with a few general lines thrown in. The best thing you can do early on is make sure the person on the other side of the screen is real and not out to scam you.

Once you positively verify their identity and they are who they say they are on the app, you can move to the next stage of going on a date or meeting in person the first time (preferably at a public place to start with). My best advice is to follow your gut in these situations. 

What to Do If You’re Being Cyberstalked

The internet is a dangerous place for women. We’re more likely to be stalked or harassed on social media than men are. And we’re more likely to have our accounts hacked, with private photos of us spread across the web for anyone to see.

Cyberstalking is a real threat, and if you become a victim of one, it can be incredibly traumatizing. Here’s how you can avoid that happening:

1. Know the Signs of Cyberstalking

Are you unsure whether you have a cyberstalker on your hands or just the average browsing Joe? Here are some red flags to look out for:

2. Document Every Stalking Incident

If you suspect you’re being stalked online, take screenshots of everything. If your stalker is sending you harassing messages on social media, print them out or take a screenshot. This will help you prove the harassment later, should you need to bring the situation to law enforcement’s attention.

If the stalking is happening via email or other digital communication channels, save copies of those messages. The more evidence you have that someone is stalking you, the better off you’ll be later if they escalate their behavior or try to deny it happened at all.

Another thing that will help protect you is documenting your cyberstalker’s offline behavior. If your stalker knows where you live, have they come by your house? Are they calling your workplace? Have they shown up there? Write all this down too. Even seemingly innocuous things like sending flowers are worth noting. Best to get it all documented early on!

3. Hide All Personal Information

If you want to minimize the risk of being harassed or stalked over the internet, here’s my advice: Don’t put your personal information anywhere on the internet. The less public information there is, the better.

If you’re afraid you’re already being stalked, hide your email, phone number, address and photos. If you really want to voice your opinion on a debate or share something on Twitter, use an anonymous handle that won’t let anyone trace it back to you, and hide your IP with a VPN when posting.

There’s no guarantee this will work, especially if you’re removing your personal information after having already exposed it online, but it’s a good step to protect yourself.

4. Report Offline Threats to the Police

If you’re a woman and you find yourself being stalked by a person on the internet, you should also do your best to protect yourself in real life. Taking the precautions to ensure your physical safety just in case the situation escalates is recommended and can give you the peace of mind to go about your day as usual.

It’s not to report just incidents of cyberstalking. You must also report any offline threats or harassment you face, including death threats, threatening text messages or phone calls at odd hours, and anything else that frightens and upsets you.

Reporting these incidents can help ensure your stalker will be held accountable for all his actions against you online and offline.


“Don’t feed the trolls” is a popular internet adage. “Don’t read the comments,” is another. Both sentiments recognize that online harassment and abuse are as much a part of the modern internet as cat videos, but they needn’t be.

Today, more than ever, women need to know how to protect themselves online. Hopefully, this guide will help you get started. 

Have you faced any online violence before? How much information do you normally feel comfortable sharing online? Let us know in the comments and as always, thank you for reading. 

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