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Kaspersky: the state of stalkerware programs in 2020, the year of COVID-19

Kaspersky’s latest report, “The state of stalkerware programs in 2020”, shows that the situation has not improved much from the previous year: in 2019, the company had 67,500 mobile devices. showed that he was a victim of stalkerware. At the same time, it is important to consider the onset of a pandemic in connection with the improvement, as stalkerware programs are often used as a means of digital control over the life of a partner or partner. In light of this, it is not at all surprising that the annual curve of users affected by stalkerware programs shows a decline in the March-June 2020 reports, and then the numbers begin to stabilize again. This coincides with the onset of global closures and the later period when many countries around the world began to ease restrictions.

Global prevalence of stalkerware programs

Stalkerware it is a form of cyber violence, a global phenomenon that affects almost every country, regardless of size, social order or cultural context. Kaspersky’s 2020 list is led by Russia, Brazil, the United States, India and Mexico: in these countries, most fall victim to this form of harassment. They are followed by Germany as the first European country to take sixth place in the global rankings. Iran, Italy, the United Kingdom and, finally, Saudi Arabia took the top ten on the podium.

Kaspersky: the state of stalkerware programs in 2020, the year of COVID-19

The number of users affected by stalkerware is still high and new cases are being discovered every day, we must not forget that there are real human lives behind the numbers and we often do not hear them. so we decided to share the image before us with the anti-stalkerware community so we can all learn more about the problem.It is quite clear that we all need to share our findings to further improve our detection of anti-stalkerware programs cyber-violence , “said Viktor Chebyshev, head of Kaspersky’s R&D team.

Action is out against violence

From 2021, Kaspersky has been working with four partners on the EU-wide “DeStalk” project, which is also supported by the European Commission under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program. According to Kaspersky, in 2020, a total of 6,459 mobile device users fell victim to stalkerware programs in the EU. The countries most affected were Germany, Italy, France and Spain, with Hungary ranked 16th in the middle

Before DeStalk, in 2019, Kaspersky co-founded with nine other organizations. the “Coalition Against Stalkerware” initiative, which now has 30 member organizations from five continents. The aim of the coalition is to improve the industry’s perception of stalkerware programs, to learn from non-profit organizations and companies, and to inform and raise public awareness.

The Coalition Against Stalkerware member organizations have made great strides in a number of areas. progress over the past year, including awareness-raising, detection of stalkerware programs, and research into the daily lives of survivors of domestic violence.The coalition has allowed us to approach a complex problem in a holistic way. we must continue to fight on several fronts, “said Eva Galperin, Director of Cyber ​​Security at the Electronic Frontier Foundation on the occasion of the coalition’s one-year anniversary.

In addition, Kaspersky released a free anti-TinyCheck anti- stalkerware tool used by nonprofits to help victims of domestic violence and protect their privacy. The unique function of the tool is to be able to detect the stalkerware program and notify the affected user without the perpetrator’s knowledge. The device is also supported by the information security community and is constantly updated.

Users can check that their mobile device is this stalkerware program is installed. The following signs may give rise to suspicion:

  • Check permissions on installed apps: stalkerware apps can be disguised under fake app names that access suspicious apps, call logs, location data, and other personal activities way. For example, an application called “Wi-Fi” that accesses your geographic location may give rise to suspicion.
  • Delete applications you no longer use. If you have not opened the application for at least a month, you can safely assume that you no longer need it, but if this situation changes later, you can still reinstall it.
  • Check the “unknown source” setting on your Android devices. If “unknown source” is enabled on your device, this may indicate that unwanted software has been installed from an external source.
  • Check your browsing history. To download stalkerware programs, the perpetrator must go to websites that the affected user is unaware of. Of course, it is also possible that there is no history if the perpetrator deleted it.
  • Use a reliable security solution, such as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android software, which provides protection against all kinds of mobile threats and regularly scans your device.
  • Before removing the stalkerware program from the device

      If you have found a stalkerware program, do not rush to remove it from the device, as the perpetrator may notice it. It is important to consider the fact that the installer of the program may pose a potential security risk. In some cases, the person may increase the harassing behavior in response to the removal of the program.

    • Contact local authorities and organizations assisting victims of domestic violence to help and develop a security plan. A list of such organizations in each country can be found at www.stopstalkerware.org
    • Consider whether you want to keep some evidence of the stalkerware program before removing it.

    • Listen to your instincts and do what you feel is safest.

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    Sandra Loyd
    Sandra is the Reporter working for World Weekly News. She loves to learn about the latest news from all around the world and share it with our readers.

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