Stalkerware is a type of malware that allows stalkers to closely monitor a person’s activity on their mobile device without their consent. Often the perpetrators are close people, such as abusive partners, who use these programs to exert control and dominance over their victims. Knowing how stalkerware works and how to detect it is essential to protect our privacy and security online.
The stalkerware monitors and collects information from the infected device, such as location, browsing history, call logs, photos, videos, contacts, among other sensitive data. These programs are often legal in many places and are marketed as child or employee monitoring tools.
Although these programs are designed to be difficult to detect, there are certain signs that may indicate the presence of stalkerware on your device.
- Unknown apps: If you find apps on your device that you don’t remember installing, they might be stalkerware in disguise. Search for information about that app on the Internet.
- Reduced battery life: Stalkerware consumes device resources, which can reduce battery life.
- Increased data usage: Because stalkerware is constantly transmitting information, you may notice increased data usage. There are ways to know, within the mobile settings, which apps use more data and which less.
- Performance issues: An infected device may experience overheating, slowness, or difficulty opening apps.
- Changes in settings: If changes have been made to settings or permissions on your device without your knowledge, it could be a sign that someone has installed stalkerware.
How to deal with Stalkerware
If you discover that there is stalkerware on your device, you should exercise caution to protect your security.
Steps to follow
- Contact the authorities or a helpline: Rather than removing stalkerware yourself, it is best to seek help from the proper authorities or specialized helplines, such as the Coalition Against Stalkerware.
- Factory reset: If you’re sure you can remove stalkerware without compromising your security, perform a factory reset on your device after backing up your important data.
- Change passwords: Change all your passwords using long and complex combinations that are difficult to guess.
- Contact your bank: If you have used mobile banking, notify your bank about the situation.
- Update software and additional protection : Make sure to update all the software on your device and install an anti-malware application to increase security.
Stalkerware represents a growing threat in our digitalized society, where privacy and security can easily be compromised. Although legislations around the world are beginning to address the problem of digital bullying, it is our responsibility to be informed and proactively protect ourselves.
Fighting stalkerware means not only identifying and removing malicious software, but also promoting education and awareness about digital bullying and its consequences. It is crucial to foster a safe and healthy online environment, where people can browse without fear of being monitored or controlled.
Ultimately, tackling stalkerware and digital bullying is a joint effort involving users, companies, organizations, and governments. Only through collaboration and coordinated action can we guarantee a digital space where privacy and security are respected and protected.