Stalkerware reaches 32,000 mobile users every year: report
The stalkerware – which allows someone to spy on another person’s privacy using a smart device – affected more than 32,000 Kaspersky mobile users worldwide last year, said the cybersecurity company in a new report.
Along with other technologies, stalkerware is often used in abusive relationships. Research has identified a direct link between online and offline violence, making it even more essential to comprehensively address this problem.
The report “The State of Stalkerware in 2021” analyzes the use of stalkerware around the world, with the aim of better understanding the threat it poses. It provides some analyzes on the phenomenon of stalkerware, and more broadly on technological abuse, as well as advice for associations and potential victims.
“We have seen a significant decrease in the number of affected users compared to data collected by Kaspersky since 2018, and a 39% decrease compared to Kaspersky’s 2020 figures globally. Locally, there is also a decrease – 36% in the United Arab Emirates,” the report said.
“However, it is important to emphasize that these statistics represent only the tip of the iceberg. According to a rough estimate by the Coalition Against Stalkerware, the use of stalkerware could be close to one million instances, worldwide, each year.
By comparing the results of this research with the results of a Digital Stalking survey conducted in late 2021, it is easy to see a link between online and offline violence, according to the report.
24% of respondents confirmed that they had been stalked using technology and 25% confirmed that they had experienced violence or abuse from their partner. We also found the same correlation in most of the countries where the survey was conducted.
Two non-profit organizations that also contributed to the report and shared their experience of working with victims – NNEDV (the national network to end domestic violence) and WWP EN (the European network for work with perpetrators of violence domestic) – confirm that technological misuse is a growing problem.
“ICT technologies are powerful tools for perpetrators who exercise coercive control, especially in relationships where violence is already present offline,” said Berta Vall Castelló and Anna McKenzie of WWP EN. Domestic violence has increased dramatically during the pandemic, especially during lockdowns.
“There is an increasing rate of smart devices – including home assistants, connected appliances and security systems connected to WiFi networks and smartphones – being used in domestic violence. While stalkerware is a common concern, it there are many other tools available for technology abuse,” said Toby Shulruff of NNEDV’s Safety Net Project.
Stalkerware continues to claim victims all over the world. Kaspersky has identified affected users in more than 185 countries and territories, with Russia, Brazil, the United States and India again being the top four countries with the highest number of identified unique users. Germany is the only European country in our top 10 most affected countries.
This edition of the “State of Stalkerware” report also provides an overview of the most affected countries regionally, with Kaspersky statistics for North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Eastern Europe (excluding EU countries), Russia and Central Asia, and Asia-Pacific region.
How Kaspersky works with external stakeholders to fight stalkerware
Kaspersky is a co-founder and driving force behind the Coalition Against Stalkerware, an international group dedicated to fighting stalkerware and domestic violence. Interpol supports the Coalition and in 2021, together with Kaspersky, provided training to over 200 law enforcement officers on the subject of stalkerware.
In addition, Kaspersky is one of the partners of the DeStalk project. Funded by the European Commission, this research project aims to develop a strategy to train and support professionals in victim support services, offender programmes, agents of institutions and local authorities, among others.
Kaspersky has also developed TinyCheck, a free and open source tool that aims to facilitate the detection of stalkerware in a simple, fast and non-invasive way on the victim’s device. It can run on any operating system without notifying the author. In 2021, several domestic violence nonprofits tested TinyCheck and provided feedback to help improve it. Police forces and judicial bodies in several countries have also taken an interest in this tool to better support victims.
Copyright 2022 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).