How To Detect And Protect Yourself From Stalkerware, And Why Antivirus Is The Answer
Stalkerware, as the name suggests, is an illegitimately used app or program that can invade personal privacy without the consent or knowledge of an individual. Naturally, stalkerware has many features in common with parental control software.
However, the primary difference is that the parental control software is completely legal, without hiding itself on a device, while stalkerware is hidden with the aim of remaining undetected. When stalkerware gets into a system, the program icon will not be visible on the menu but it will continue running in the background.
Read on to learn more about this malicious software and how you can protect yourself from it.
The Legal Aspect
The software itself is legal, but using it without authorization can be a punishable offence. Laws against surveillance differ from country to country, with most considering it illegal. The creators of these stalkerware programs usually warn that one must not use the product in contradiction of the country’s law. They also clarify that one must not install it on a device owned by someone else without letting the actual owner know about it first.
The primary reason why stalkerware is sometimes mistaken as legally compliant is because of its similarities with parental control software. In most cases, where there is a breach of rules set by the latter, there will be a message stating that an action is out of bounds. On the other hand, stalkerware hides its presence in the device and will monitor activities without the owner’s knowledge, and certainly without any notification.
Parental control software is a two-sided piece of technology, while stalkware can be used deviously for a variety of illegitimate purposes - in a one-sided manner.
How To Protect Yourself
If you think you have been a victim of stalkerware, it is important to first contact the cybersecurity helpline in your locality. In parallel, if you believe that such software has been installed on your phones or computers, it is a good idea to turn off those devices immediately.
Here are some other things that you can do to protect yourself:
- Scan the device with an antivirus using its highest detection settings. If the scan returns clean, check under the whitelisted programs and remove anything that does not seem familiar and then re-run the scan
- Never lend your phone to unknown people, and if you do so, make sure that your device stays in sight
- Always protect your digital devices with a password or pin and keep them secret. Lock your device at all times
- Do not download applications from untrusted platforms on the web
- It is safe to install a reliable antivirus program on your digital devices. Look for the one that has the option to protect the settings menu with a password
- It is totally possible for one to buy a mobile phone with pre-installed stalkerware. Ensure that your new device box has not been tampered with and confirm its reliability before making a purchase
- If you keep receiving messages from unknown senders through various media, it could be an indication of potential stalkerware. Make sure you take the required measures in that case
- Uninstall all apps that you do not use
If you feel there are drastic changes in the performance of your device such as rapid battery drains, do consult an expert. If your device has been compromised but you end up removing the stalkerware, make sure you do an in-depth security check and change your passwords on all platforms.
How Antivirus Software Can Help
Antivirus software can be used to protect your devices from some stalkerware apps. The degree of protection could change based on the intensity of the malicious software. Some stalkerware apps can breach deep into the host device easily while others might need administrative rights that are manually set to establish more control.
The more intense stalkerware apps will have the ability to resist uninstallation. Antivirus products will enable the incorporation of comprehensive scanning methods that will look into system apps and even archives. Thus, any anomaly can be detected, and unwanted applications can be deleted. Choosing the smartest and highest detection settings will aid in the process of effectively detecting stalkerware.
Some antivirus products are so powerful that they display descriptive warning messages in most instances. These products could even identify the actions performed by the stalkerware such as calls eavesdropping, access to location details without consent, access of camera and its functions without permission, and more.