Kaspersky Lab researchers have found that over 58,000 Android users were victim to “stalkerware” on their phones in 2018.
After using an antivirus software provided by Kaspersky Lab, 35,000 users were surprised to find their phones had the stalkerware installed in the first place.
Stalkerware is a surveillance spyware that essentially spies on a user’s device, allowing a malicious actor to look into photo libraries, email and SMS messaging, intercept live calls, etc. It is termed “legal spyware” as legally-registered companies distribute the software for others to track their children’s activities on mobile devices, for example, or even offer employers employee tracking on such devices.
In the case of legitimate applications with the software, users are aware they are being monitored, receiving notification that the application is running in the background. In other cases, illegal spyware can wreak havoc on one’s personal privacy, as some users may fall victim to a hacker’s attempt of installing such spyware onto their device if a user clicks on a malicious link in an email, for example.
Following a blog post on the immorality of “legally” distributed spyware, Kaspersky lab had made it public through its reporting that their Android antivirus software will assist in stalkerware awareness and quarantine for users unknowing of the spyware’s dangers to their privacy. An alert is sent directly to users’ devices notifying them that an application is compromising their sensitive information.