How to spot stalkerware (software that could be spying on you)

Stalkerware is commercially available software that is used to spy on another person via their device – usually a phone – without their consent.

It can allow the user to view someone else’s messages, location, photos, files, and even eavesdrop on conversations in the phone’s vicinity.

If somebody is constantly aware of your movements or perhaps quotes from your personal messages, emails or social media, it is possible you have been a victim of so-called stalkerware which is commercially available software that’s used to spy on another person via their device – usually a phone – without their consent.

Check the apps installed on your device and remove any you are not sure of. Don’t be scared if you try to delete a suspicious app and it throws up a lot of warnings such as your device will not work properly if the app is removed.

If all else fails, do a factory reset of your phone, changing all of your social media account passwords and using two-factor authentication all the time.

Research suggests that proliferation of stalkerware is a growing problem: A study by Norton Labs found that the number of devices indicating that they had stalkerware installed rose by 63% between September 2020 and May 2021.

Its report suggested the dramatic increase could be due to the effect of lockdowns and people generally spending more time at home.
“Personal belongings are easily within arm’s reach, likely creating more opportunities for perpetrators of tech-enabled abuse to install stalkerware on their partner’s devices,” the report found.

In October, Google removed several adverts for applications that encourage prospective users to spy on their partner’s phone. These apps are often marketed at parents wishing to monitor their child’s movements and messages – but have instead been repurposed by abusers to spy on their spouses.

One of those apps, SpyFone, was banned by the US Federal Trade Commission in September for harvesting and sharing data about people’s movements and activities via a hidden device hack.

Read more on BBC website