Coalition Against Stalkerware in fighting stalkerware

Recently the Coalition Against Stalkerware held a platform where coordinators conducted two online training sessions dedicated to digital stalking and domestic violence. More than 210 participants joined the sessions. At them experts provided participants with the technological knowledge concerning stalkeware and it’s installation methods. Law enforcement officers learned also about various methods to detect stalkerware safely for victims.

The Coalition Against Stalkerware adresses issues of stalkerware

The Coalition Against Stalkerware (“Coalition” or “CAS” ) dedicates itself to address harassment, stalking and abuse via the use and creation of stalkerware. Ten founding partners launched it in November 2019. And now it brings together the efforts of more than forty partners around the globe.

The Coalition Against Stalkerware estimates that stalkerware instances likely outnumber one million per year. Stalkerware means commercial software that allows someone to secretly spy on someone else’s activity. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic this threat spread more rapidly.

“The misuse of technology as a tactic of abuse is incredibly common. Keeping up with constantly evolving technology that is being weaponized can be a challenge for law enforcement, advocates, and survivors. It’s important for professionals working with survivors to understand the ways technology can be misused and how to support survivors. Survivors should be empowered to learn how to increase their privacy and safety with technology,” says Erica Olsen, Director of Safety Net, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

How to screen your device for spying software?

Stalking presents that type of risk that associates itself with the increased likelihood of lethal and near-lethal harm. Wesnet in assistance of Australian frontline family violence workers prepared a report on stalkerware. According to it the number of women stalked rose to 244 percent between 2015 and 2020. During the online sessions two NGOs working in the field of domestic violence shared advice on how law enforcement officers can offer better support to victims who require any assistance. The training finished with participants asking questions and sharing their feedback on the sessions.

Stalkerware software often lies in a so-called grey area. Because people use legitimate surveillance apps like parental control. The case changes when someone instals it to secretly spy on another person. Such apps record your conversations, all that you type and location. Disguised as a calendar or calculator they hugely trespass on your privacy. Only recently Google and Apple started to acknowledge such apps as a privacy breach issue.

These apps trespass on your privacy

You can follow the simple rules to avoid or detect the activity of stalkerware. First of all, change your passwords and passcodes. Don’t use the same password across several sites. Create long and complex passwords that would be hard for someone to guess. Enable two-factor authentication. On any account that offers it, enable this functionality. Apart from your login and password you have to put in the temporarily generated code sent to you.

Also look for unusual behavior of your device. If you notice that your battery drains too fast it might be the sign of a malicious app. Go through all your installed apps to see if there is something suspicious. But before you delete it consider the possibility that it then may be used as evidence in a court. Check which devices and apps have access to your accounts. Log out of everything that looks suspicious.

Andrew Nail

Cybersecurity journalist from Montreal, Canada. Studied communication sciences at Universite de Montreal. I was not sure if a journalist job is what I want to do in my life, but in conjunction with technical sciences, it is exactly what I like to do. My job is to catch the most current trends in the cybersecurity world and help people to deal with malware they have on their PCs.

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