Kaspersky researchers have disclosed the results of the global analysis of stalkerware programs – commercially available spyware often used for domestic abuse. According to Kaspersky’s State of Stalkerware report, in total, at least 53,870 mobile users worldwide were notified on the existence of such programs on their phones after installing Kaspersky. As a response, the IT security community, research and civil society organisations, and governmental authorities combined their expertise in this new online course. The course trains public officials of regional authorities, workers of victim support services, and perpetrator programs how to effectively fight digital forms of gender-based violence.
Stalkerware is commercially available software that can be purchased by ordinary people and to be used to secretly spy on another person’s private life via a smart device and is often used as part of intimate partner violence. The types of personal data transferred to the privacy abuser by such programs ranges from geolocation transmission to the reports on social media messages and ability to turn on the camera on the device at any given moment.
Since February 2021, the DeStalk consortium partners have been developing the e-learning course, with the overarching goal to better help victims and prevent online gender-based violence. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, one in ten women have already been subjected to cyber violence from the age of 15. In Europe, for example, seven in ten women who have experienced cyberstalking have also experienced at least one form of physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.
The online course is a milestone on the way to filling a knowledge gap, as online abuse is a known issue, but practitioners and officials need more knowledge to enhance their ability to recognise and stop the use of cyberviolence and stalkerware.
“We are honored to have led the work on DeStalk e-learning, with our expert partners from research and education, civil society organisations and governmental authorities to develop content for this important training on cyberviolence and stalkerware. By combining our joint expertise from different disciplines, we have designed a unique online course on our platform. Aimed at increasing capabilities of professionals working in the field of domestic violence and government authorities, the micro-learning approach and automated training paths will enable users to learn at their own pace and acquire the skills needed to support victims of cyberviolence and stalkerware,” comments Tanguy de Coatpont, Managing Director Southern Europe, Kaspersky.
Practitioners and public officials who would like to take part in the training are required to register their interest via the registration form available on the DeStalk webpage.
For users who suspect they may be affected or are being impacted by stalkerware, Kaspersky has the following recommendations:
- 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. 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.