As a threat researcher, I like to think I’m helping make the world a better place. We protect against malware that can compromise your device, steal personal information, costs you money, and commit many other malicious acts.
It didn’t occur to me until today that I was also protecting against stalking and domestic abuse while listening to story on National Public Radio (NPR) entitled Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims.
With the use of spyware installed on victim’s mobile devices, abusers were able to eavesdrop on their victims remotely, and even more scary, track them using GPS.
In fact, a staggering 85% of victims were tracked by GPS according to NPR who surveyed 72 domestic violence shelters.
NPR named several companies that sell these spyware applications: mSpy, PhoneSheriff, MobiStealth, and StealthGenie.
All of these companies have apps can be ran on an Android device in the background. Here’s a list of some of features these apps can do:
- Access calendar and address book
- Control apps on device
- Monitor call logs
- Monitor conversations through popular communication apps like Skype
- Monitor Instant Messages
- Monitor keystrokes
- Monitor SMS conversions
- Monitor web history
- Read emails
- Record anything within the distance of your device’s microphone
- Record calls
- Remote control device
- Track device using GPS
In my opinion, no matter how these companies advertise their apps, there is no reason anyone should ever put one of these apps on an unsuspecting victim’s device.
I’m a proud to say that we detect all of these unethical spyware apps. Anyone that suspects they are victims of such cyber stalking can scan their device using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile.