Stalkerware is a spying software or app that allows someone else to track your device. It’s usually installed without the device owner’s knowledge or consent. Stalkerware can be deliberately installed by someone on your device or can accompany a program or app you installed yourself.
Types of stalkerware
- Dedicated stalkerware. This type of spyware advertises itself as such and can cost up to a few hundred dollars. It grants stalkers full access to the victim’s device, allowing them to track almost everything they do on it. That includes photos and videos taken, websites visited, messages sent and received, call history, and location.
- “Dual-use” apps. Free apps like Google Maps or Find My Friends can also be used to spy on someone. These apps have more limitations than dedicated spyware apps but can still show the victim’s real-time location.
- Most stalkerware is marketed as parental control programs that allow parents to keep an eye on their children.
- Companies may use it to monitor their employees.
- Abusers may secretly install it onto their partner’s device to track them 24/7.
Dangers of stalkerware
- Cybersecurity risks: Stalkers can access sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data, and use it for malicious purposes.
- Invasion of privacy. Stalkerware is designed to track someone’s activities without their knowledge or consent. That is a serious violation of their privacy.
- Damage to relationships. Using stalkerware can disrupt relationships and erode trust between partners, family members, or friends.
- Emotional and psychological harm. Being targeted by stalkerware often causes serious psychological damage to the victim. Its symptoms may include anxiety, depression, and feelings of paranoia and violation.
- Physical harm. Abusers may use stalkerware to open the door for both psychological and physical violence against their partners.