RUSSIAN SECURITY OUTFIT Kaspersky Lab has discovered that more than 58,000 Android-using folks had so-called 'stalkerware' lurking on their devices in 2018, with 35,000 unaware they were being stalked.
Stalkerware is software that can track a person's gadget and by extension them, as well as snoop on their texts and get live feeds from cameras. It's legal but is pretty damn unethical; nevertheless, it seems to get used a heck of a lot.
Some people might consent to have stalkerware on their devices, say to keep their partner happy. But it would seem like a lot of people end up with it on their devices without their knowledge; again that's legal but dodgy AF.
Stalkerware has another nasty sting in its tail. By uploading data to a server operated by the stalkerware's makers, the harvested information could be exposed to the developers as well.
That could mean there's a heck of a lot more people with the peepers on data that should, at best, only been seen by the stalkerware's user. Obviously, that poses a risk to the data belonging to the person who is being 'stalked' legitimately.
"This sensitive data may end up in the hands of malefactors or even become publicly available," highlighted Kaspersky Lab's Leonid Grustniy.
That's bad news, but it gets worse because stalkerware asks for device security software to be turned off so it can carry out its data-sucking stuff; in may ways stalkerware is malware.
"Even the stalkerware installation process is not safe. First, most of these apps fail to comply with the policies of official stores such as Google Play, so you will not find them featured. That means, in the case of an Android device, you have to consent to installing third-party apps —which, in turn, opens the door to hosts of malware," said Grustniy.
"Second, stalkerware often claims lots of system rights, even down to root access, which puts the app in full control of the gadget — in particular, giving it the right to install other apps."
So yeah, stalkerware is bad news all round. And if you have someone using it on you it's perhaps time to reconsider your relationship/friends/colleagues.
Kaspersky championed that its security software will work to detect and block stalkerware, something some security firms won't do due it not being illegal and a money-spinner for developers. We suspect other cybersecurity providers will follow suit. µ
It's the week in Google news
Erik Estrada wouldn't have stood for this
Hacks in support of WikiLeaks founder target gov websites