PREVIOUS ARTICLENEXT ARTICLE
NEWS
By 13 December 2021 | Categories: news

0

Apparently, there are more than a few people out there with the boundary issues that Joe Goldberg, from Netflix’s You, amply displays. A recent study found that almost a third of those in relationships are somehow okay with keeping tabs on their partner using stalkerware.

Stalkerware enables a perpetrator to digitally monitor another person’s private life via a mobile device without the victim’s consent.

The study found that while the majority of respondents (70%) do not believe it is acceptable to monitor their partner without consent, a significant share of people (30%) see no problem at all and find it acceptable under some circumstances. Of those who think certain reasons justify secret surveillance, the study found that almost two thirds (64%) would do so if they believed their partner was being unfaithful, if it was related to their safety (63%), or if they believed them to be involved in criminal activity (50%).

Looking at geographical differences, it is noticeable that the highest agreement level on monitoring in general comes from respondents in the Asia-Pacific region (24%), whereas in Europe (10%) and the Americas (8%) fewer people find this acceptable.

Beyond that, Kaspersky’s Digital Stalking in Relationships report, conducted online by Sapio Research in September 2021, showed that 15% of respondents worldwide have been required by their partner to install a monitoring app. Sadly, 34% of those indicating this answer have also already experienced abuse by an intimate partner.

The study was done to mark the second anniversary of the Coalition Against Stalkerware co-founded by Kaspersky, and entailed a global survey of more than 21 000 participants in 21 countries about their attitudes towards privacy and digital stalking in intimate relationships.

Partners advising on the research were domestic violence experts from other member organisations of the Coalition Against Stalkerware: Australia's national umbrella organisation for domestic violence services, Wesnet; the women’s rights organisation Centre Hubertine Auclert in France; the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) in the USA; the victim support charity Refuge in the UK; and WWP EN, the European umbrella association for perpetrator programs.

“It is dangerous to justify exerting any sort of control over a partner in the light of suspected infidelity. Preventive campaigns addressing the issues of coercive control, jealousy and infidelity would be a valuable tool against these attitudes,” explains Berta Vall Castelló, Research & Development Manager, European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence (WWP EN).

The findings suggest that online monitoring can be another way of exerting coercive control in intimate relationships. Given that stalkerware is commercially available software that lies hidden on a device and provides access to an array of personal data, such as device location, browser history, text messages or social media chats, it might also not be surprising that it may serve as another tool in abusive relationships.

“I really urge anyone who is experiencing stalking - either in real life or through stalkerware - and who feels it would be unsafe or dangerous to confront their abuser, to reach out to a domestic abuse organisation to get advice and support,” says Karen Bentley, Chief Executive Officer, Wesnet, Australia's national umbrella organisation for domestic violence services.

“The National Network to End Domestic Violence is delighted Kaspersky is taking steps forward to increase understanding about privacy and the use of stalkerware in intimate partner relationships. More data is needed in this area and we look forward to seeing this information put to use to improve safety and privacy protections for survivors,” comments Erica Olsen, Director of Safety Net, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

Global detection figures and geography of affected users

Following the Coalition Against Stalkerware’s detection criteria on stalkerware, Kaspersky analysed its statistics revealing how many of its users were affected by stalkerware in the first 10-months of the year: from January to October 2021, almost 28 000 mobile users were affected by this threat. During the same period, there were more than 235 cases in Kenya, and 213 in South Africa and 102 in Nigeria, respectively.

Kaspersky reassured that it has not been taking the proliferation of stalkerware lying down.

In October, the cybersecurity company teamed up with INTERPOL, NNEDV and Wesnet, to provide more than 210 police officers with knowledge to investigate digital stalking using the Coalition’s technical training as a basis for the online workshops, which was very well received by the global law enforcement community.

Also last month, the EU wide DeStalk project – in which Kaspersky has taken a leading role –  launched an e-learning course for public officials of regional authorities and workers of victim support services and perpetrator programs, on how to tackle cyberviolence and stalkerware. DeStalk is supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Program of the European Commission.

For users who suspect they may be affected or are being impacted by stalkerware, Kaspersky has the following recommendations:

  • Do not rush to remove stalkerware if found on the device as the abuser may notice. It is very important to consider that the abuser may be a potential safety risk. In some cases, the person may escalate their abusive behaviours in response.
  • Contact local authorities and service organisations supporting victims of domestic violence – for assistance and safety planning. A list of relevant organisations in several countries can be found on www.stopstalkerware.org.
  • Watch the Coalition’s video on stalkerware and how to protect against it on the homepage available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. There is also a dedicated page for victims and survivors on stalkerware detection, removal and prevention.
  • Use proven cybersecurity protection, such as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, to run a check on your device and discover if stalkerware has been installed on it. However, this should only be done after the potential risk to the victim has been assessed as the perpetrator may notice the use of a cybersecurity solution.

As anyone who has compulsively gorged on three seasons of You can tell you, being a target of a stalker, or a partner with no problem ignoring your right to privacy, is not to be taken lightly. Doing anything for Love, should certainly not include stalking.   

USER COMMENTS

Read
Magazine Online
TechSmart.co.za is South Africa's leading magazine for tech product reviews, tech news, videos, tech specs and gadgets.
Start reading now >
Download latest issue

Have Your Say


What new tech or developments are you most anticipating this year?
New smartphone announcements (23 votes)
Technological breakthroughs (19 votes)
Launch of new consoles, or notebooks (10 votes)
Innovative Artificial Intelligence solutions (17 votes)
Biotechnology or medical advancements (21 votes)
Better business applications (102 votes)