When you go through a divorce, you can find yourself feeling like every small detail of your life is under a microscope. Anything you create online or in text messages can be drawn into long debates. Your browsing history, emails, and social media posts can be up for interpretation by your spouse and others.
All of this can leave you wondering if it’s illegal for your spouse to snoop through your computer files once the marriage is ending.
Here’s how to handle cybersecurity concerns during divorce.
If your spouse feels that your actions could be to blame for the end of the relationship, they might decide to take matters into their own hands and gain access to all of your devices. Or, it might be you who is wondering if you have the right to dig into these forms of information and present them during a divorce proceeding. It’s critical to understand that laws about divorce vary from state to state. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your privacy safe during a separation or divorce, especially if you’re still living under the same roof with your soon-to-be ex. Here are a couple of strategies you can use to keep data safe.
Question if it’s Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a common occurence in schools and between children of all ages, but it’s not limited to school-age individuals. Cyberbullying can happen to anyone of any age — all it takes is an aggressor and a target. If your spouse is repeatedly harassing, intimidating, or threatening you on social media or through text messages, there is a good chance you’re the target of cyberbullying. Just remember, these messages must be repeated, intend to harm you in some way, and hold power over you to meet the definition of this type of abuse.
For some reason, when bullying and other forms of abuse happen inside the boundaries of marriage, we tend to think of it differently. However, you need to remember that bullying is bullying. Period. If you’re a private person and your spouse isn’t, information that you would prefer to keep just between the two of you might be spread across various social media platforms and is a prime example of cyberbullying.
These types of attacks can cause you to feel isolated, depressed, and even suicidal. It’s crucial to recognize cyberbullying during your divorce for what it is and block your spouse from your account. You might also need to consider setting clear boundaries with your spouse and keeping records of any public attacks that happen. Make sure that you clearly tell your spouse that you want the attacks to stop and then quit responding to anything they post or send.
Eliminate Possible Sources
If you’re worried about the information that might be on any old devices, you should be aware that disposing equipment doesn’t clear out the history. It’s best to destroy old cell phones that might be a gold-mine of information about past behaviors. So, find all of the old phones you’ve kept over the years. Search for a reputable professional shredder to get rid of them. You can also ask them about destroying tablets and computers to rid yourself of all possible sources of old data that could be used against you.
Consider Going Internet Free
If you’ve had enough of the threats and untrue posts on social media, it might be time to consider living without internet. Giving it up can save you from late night searches to see what your ex has said online or who they’re hanging out with these days. Don’t forget that it can put a little extra cash in your pocket, too.
Before you tell yourself that you would be the only person without internet at home, consider this — it’s estimated that about 11% of Americans don’t have internet services. You can still access everything you need when you’re out and about at a coffee shop or even at work. Going internet-free might help you to truly disconnect from the drama of the divorce when you’re at home and give you some clarity over the situation.
Check Passwords and Touch IDs
Many of us save passwords in easy-to-find locations and don’t think twice about using our touch IDs to access our phones and tablets. However, a tech-savvy spouse might be able to use your smartphone as grounds for the divorce, so you need to change your password as soon as you can. Reset all of your passwords on every account and device you have. Keep your list of passwords in a secure location and password protected, too. If you have any shared devices with your spouse, consider wiping them clean of your personal data.
You should also check any device with a touch ID to make sure yours is the only one saved. While you’re in your phone’s settings, take a peek at when the passcode is required as well. You should have this set for immediately so that you don’t have to worry about placing your phone down even for a minute.
Keeping Your Information Safe
Divorce is hard. Keeping your information safe might be harder. Using these four tips to handle cybersecurity concerns during divorce can make the process easier and less stressful.