Privacy is perhaps the number one concern for many of us who browse the web. The privacy concerns are extremely valid due to unsafe activities that roam the net. Stalkerware is one of the most common ways in which our privacy is always abused online.
What is stalkerware?
Stalkerware is a monitoring software or spyware that invades your personal computer to track your activities. The software is installed into your personal computer by a stalker – be it an insecure partner, controlling parents or anyone who wants to track your online footprints.
Additionally, recent technological advances have allowed hackers to extend this software to other digital devices such as your mobile phone. Thus, with this software, one can easily track your smartphone activities – from the text messages sent to videos taken through the phone. Additionally, they can even track the location of your mobile phone.
According to Motherboard, there is software such as FlexiSpy that haul with them a capacity to download as much data from an individual’s personal computer or mobile phone. The software collects every bit of information for a third party. i.e. your stalker! With such information, you can never know the level of vulnerability you are exposed to.
Although, stalkerware tools are largely accessible for any person to use not just hackers. There are many ways you can track or detect stalkerware on your personal computer. And the good news is that you can effectively remove the unwanted software from your devices.
The good news is that one has to physically install stalkerware into your personal computer or smartphone. However, you can unknowingly aid your stalker by installing the software into your computer. This can happen in a variety of ways. The most common way is following or clicking on links in your email or social media from senders that are suspicious or that you are unaware of.
No matter how much you trust the individuals, always cross-check personal computers or laptops that have been borrowed for longer periods. Do this when you notice new settings or applications you are unfamiliar with. For the non-tech savvy, you can easily detect this change by right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing task manager for Windows. On a Mac, launch an activity monitor from Spotlight.
If you come across an app you are not familiar with, a quick web search will clear your doubts. The quick web search is an excellent way to flag any spyware or stalkerware. You can conduct this search in the task manager for Windows or activity monitor for a Mac. This method may, however, be limiting, especially for the non-tech savvy, because it doesn’t detect all security threats.
A jailbreak on iPhones is required whilst security settings from unknown devices are required for Android phones to allow for stalkerware software to be installed. However, other kinds of stalkerware don’t require software or app. As long as your stalker, who in this case is always a person close to you, has your passwords and security questions, they can access your emails and social media accounts.
Thus, it is always good to monitor your accounts and logins from different or unknown devices. You can even track your activities by going into your google account page. Click on Device activity & notifications to view devices that have been used to log into your account. On Facebook, you can simply go to Security and login into your settings page to see active sessions and log out from those that are suspicious, if any.
It is wise to always be vigilant, smart and suspicious at all times. This helps you to detect any signs or funny activities sooner so you can mitigate risk or detect any security threats.
How to remove stalkerware
The easiest way to keep Stalkerware out of your personal computer is to simply change your password and security questions if you feel like your activities such as emails or social media accounts are being stalked. Two-step verification to your accounts is also safe because it requires real-time physical access to our devices in order to access your accounts or change passwords.
Stalkerware such s FlexiSpy Stalkerware has been subdued recently by counter software. The FlexiKiller tool developed by Security Without Borders activist group, for example, is specifically designed to kill FlexiSpy software and to remove it from your personal computer.
Like with other security compromising programs, stalkerware is installed into your personal computer and works with the aid of key loggers – which are used to track and stamp all your activities. Thus, as you take measures to counter malware and virus, install a good security tool in your computer and always update it for a thorough scan.
Some stalkers go as far as remotely activating your webcam after installing the Stalkerware into your personal computer. You can use the Privacy and Camera options in the setting to see which apps can use your webcam for Windows 10.
This allows you to spot out suspicious apps. For mobile phones, a simple reset to factory settings will wipe out all funny stalkerware software. The set back is that a factory reset will remove even the wanted apps that you have installed.
For Android settings, simply go to settings, Backup & reset then Factory data reset. For iOS, connect your phone to your computer and run iTunes. Reset your phone from iTunes to Restore the iPhone option. These options will back up your files whilst removing services such as iMessage.
After a reset, remember to always keep an eye on newly installed apps. And it’s easy, simply go to the apps menu in settings for Android users and go apps from General for iOS users to see the apps that are installed. Don’t forget to do a quick web search for Apps you don’t recognize.
Though these attacks may be virtual, they can still leave an emotional scar. Imagine a stalker getting a hold of your photos or information. Thus, it is a good idea to seek help and support from family, friends, resources such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline or even law enforcement’s cybersecurity unit.