Stalkerware is spyware in short. In detail, it is a software program that is used for cyberstalking. So, what is cyberstalking? Cyberstalking is the act of purposeful and unwanted contact with someone online.
Despite a sharp rise in the use of it globally over the past year, 86% of adults are unfamiliar with what it is and how it works. Per Avast Press releases, the use of Stalkerware and Spyware Apps has increased by 93% since Lockdown Began in the UK.
What can Stalkerware do?
Stalkerware can track victims’ location, record phone calls, and text messages. Additionally, it can steal the passwords to the social media accounts once the user login to their account through the affected device. As a result, users’ contacts, photos, emails, and even end-to-end encrypted communications are revealed.
In brief, Stalkerware provides access to a victim’s personal information.
What personal information can a perpetrator access?
- Photos, videos, email, and text messages.
- Apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
- Location tracking and webcam access.
- Personal phone calls and voicemails.
How do you get Stalkerware?
By all means, Google doesn’t allow known Stalkerware apps in the Play Store. But, some apps do manage to slip through their scrutiny. On the other hand, apps can be side-loaded by downloading from the internet and installed on the phone, not through the Play Store.
Side-loaded apps need someone with access to your device to have it in their physical control. So, if you’re having your device repaired or set up by someone else, then they may have the chance to install it.
How to prevent Stalkerware on your devices?
First, be careful with who has access to your devices. Second, keep your passwords and pin codes private.
From time to time check your devices for suspicious apps and remove any that you don’t recognize.
Next use two-factor authentication such as a pin code and the second method of identity confirmation like an email backup or thumbprint.
Last, use an antivirus. A decent mobile Antivirus will treat any Stalkerware as a potentially unwanted program (PUP) and provide the user an option to remove it.
How to find Stalkerware on your devices?
In the first place, the device’s performance may become worse unexpectedly. One may notice slow-downs or more frequent crashes or freezes.
Your device’s settings have changed without your consent. For example, your device has a new browser homepage, new icons on the desktop, a different default search engine, or other changes that you didn’t make. Altogether it might be due to Stalkerware.
In any event, you get odd messages, error messages, or pop-ups from apps that always worked fine before it may indicate spyware.
The abuser has had physical access to your device and knows things about you. Likewise, what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’ve been communicating with etc.
How to remove Stalkerware on your devices?
There are two ways to delete it from the devices:
First, use security software to detect the Stalkerware and delete it immediately.
Second, perform a factory reset on the phone. It must be remembered that factory reset will remove the offending app, and take all the rest of your data with it. So, you should back up your important data before choosing this option. Stalkerware apps for desktop computers and laptops are infrequent, but they do exist. It’s better to use an antivirus program to scan the computer and detect the Stalkerware if you doubt your computer is infected with it.
While we may not have heard of Stalkerware before, it’s always important to be aware of these new and rising threats. The use of Stalkerware is strongly linked to many numbers of incidents including threats, defamation, and sexual harassment, etc. If you or someone you know is at risk, information and help are always available at https://www.refuge.org.uk/.
Hope this information has been helpful. Read more articles on Privacy and Security.