What is Stalkerware?

What is Stalkerware?

Monday 7 March, 2022

Stalkerware – Scary new tracking software with hidden privacy risks

Stalkerware is a relatively new software development that allows someone to track another person via their mobile phone or computer. These ‘legitimate’ apps are often marketed as a security app to help parents keep track of their children.

In some cases, businesses have installed the software on their employees’ smartphones so they can monitor staff activities during the working day. Naturally, this throws open the issues of invading personal privacy and destroying trust. 

As the software is designed to be hidden, it can be difficult for the user to detect it, making it even more sinister. 

In either case, there are far more inherent privacy risks other than simply downloading and using this this type of app.

What does Stalkerware do?

Stalkerware is incredibly invasive as it can allow one person access to everything on the device of another person, including:

  • Text Messages
  • Photos
  • Emails
  • Keystrokes

Whilst the person who has installed the Stalkerware then has access to all the personal data, worryingly, it can also be accessed by the company that developed the software. This means that they also have access to the sensitive business or personal activity information of the user. 

Who installs Stalkerware?

Stalkerware has predominantly been targeted to parents looking at keep a track of their kid’s online activity as part of their cyber welfare. Although this seems an honourable practice in the first instance, unfortunately it has been widely used as part of a controlling domestic abuse behaviour. 

For example, if an abusive partner has access to the handset of their victim, they can install the Stalkerware without the other person knowing and spy on everything they do and say, then use it against them. In many cases, this forms a part of on-going domestic abuse. 

In addition, if a business uses the Stalkerware to monitor productivity and online activities of their staff, they could potentially run the risk of the developer monitoring their communications and gain access to sensitive data. This could even go as far as access to research and development information threatening the business’ future success. 

How is Stalkerware installed?

In the most part, the software is installed by a person gaining access to the hardware of their victim and choosing to download the app. Android phones are at a higher risk of the installation being effective as iOS makes it almost impossible for the software to run. However, if the iPhone is jailbroken then the Stalkerware app will work. 

So, the important fact to take from this is that keeping your phone safe and locked, plays a huge role in protecting you from Stalkerware. Always ensure the password is strong and the facial recognition or fingerprint access are only set for the user and no one else. 

How can I tell if my phone has Stalkerware?

There are some signs that will help to determine if your phone has been compromised. You might find the phone itself becomes hotter than normal or the battery power drains more quickly, even if you're not using it. 

It’s also possible you could see:

  • Notifications that you're not expecting
  • Shutdown or startup times that are longer than usual

By the sheer nature of stalking apps, they are specifically created to be hard to spot. However, any type of unusual behaviour with your phone could be a sign that something is wrong.

In addition, Stalkerware apps will frequently hide their app icons. However, they could show up in the main apps list. It’s worth checking the list of apps on the phone and, if you don’t recognise them or don’t need them, delete them. 

Blackphone PRIVY 2.0 - The answer to Stalkerware

To ensure that you will be completely protected from Stalkerware, the Blackphone PRIVY 2.0 is the answer. 

Even in the unlikely event that the person looking to infect the phone gains access to the handset, the app itself cannot be downloaded or installed. PRIVY 2.0 delivers the option to use different passwords for accessing the device itself, the encrypted storage, and each of the secure apps, adding further layers of protection. 

The Blackphone PRIVY 2.0 not only protects individuals from having their personal activities spied upon, but it also means that businesses have peace of mind that their information remains safely secure. 

Stalkerware is serious

Finally, it is crucial to not underestimate how serious the impact of Stalkerware is. Its affects can be both emotionally and psychologically shattering. If you find that Stalkerware has been used on your phone, it is important to get help and support from friends and family that you can trust.

Alternatively, you could contact a support line or charity that would be able to provide you with both support and suggestions on how to resolve your situation.

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