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Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Kaspersky honors Int'l Day for the Elimination of Violence thru staging activities for Coalition Against Stalkerware

12/01/2020 01:58:42 PM

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Kaspersky has introduced a special stalkerware and spyware detection tool – 12 months on from the foundation of the Coalition Against Stalkerware.

The term 'Stalkerware' is defined by Kasperksy as an act for someone to secretly spy on another person’s private life via a smart device and is often used to facilitate violence against an intimate partner. 

The proliferation of this cyber attack prompted the establishing of The Coalition Against Stalkerware in November last year with the purpose of fighting against technology-facilitated abuse, aiming to unite both organizations that work to combat domestic violence and the IT security community in the process. Since then, the alliance has grown from ten founding partners into a large, 26-membered international working group, including Certo Software, ECHAP, the German Institute for Technology and Journalism (ITUJ e.V.), Traced Ltd, and WESNET.

In spite of this growing movement, it is unfortunate that stalkwerware continues to be a growing problem and hence – and unfortunately, here to stay. . In 2019, Kaspersky detected a 67% year-on-year increase of stalkerware usage on its users’ mobile devices at a global level. The number of stalkerware installations worldwide during the first 10 months of 2020 (from January to October) totaled more than 48,500, which is close to the total (almost 52,000 installations) observed over the same period in 2019. Although there is a slight decrease in numbers compared to last year, there is little reason to celebrate as there is still no indication that stalkerware is disappearing.

According to Kaspersky, all of these incidents have been taking place every day around the globe. That said, it is important to stress that despite the risk that modern technologies can bring, survivors should not be discriminated against and should not stop using their devices. 

“We have to make sure that survivors have access to safe internet, safe phones, and devices so that they can stay connected, reach out for help and, most importantly, be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves,” emphasized Rachel Gibson, Senior Technology Safety Specialist at National Network to End Domestic Violence.

To help protect users against stalkerware, Félix Aimé, a security researcher in Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT), has developed “TinyCheck” [] – a simple tool to detect stalkerware and spyware installed on smartphones and tablets, without making the perpetrator aware that such a check is being carried out.
“The idea came to me in a meeting while discussing the issue of stalkerware with a French women's rights non-profit organization. The group wanted to help people who suspect this cyber attack is running on their devices, without having to install additional applications or conducting forensic analysis,” explained Félix Aimé.
This easy-to-use open-source tool relies on Raspberry Pi, a widely accessible platform. Using a regular Wi-Fi connection, TinyCheck scans a mobile device’s outgoing traffic and identifies interactions with known malicious sources, such as spyware-related servers. The aim of this project is to help non-profit organizations, like service providers, support survivors of domestic violence to protect these individuals and their privacy.

As the movement celebrates its one year of existence, Kaspersky has lauded the coalition.

“This is the first anniversary of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, and it has been quite a year in which we have learned a lot. We now understand that stalkerware is not purely a technical problem. It’s not the IT part of the issue that is challenging, but the fact that we need to deal with the commercial availability of stalkerware, the lack of regulation around how it is being used and, perhaps the most difficult problem, the fact that violence against women and different forms of online abuse has been normalized,” commented  Kristina Shingareva, Head of External Relations at Kaspersky. “We can provide technical training on different forms of tech-enabled abuse for the NPOs, but it’s not enough – it should be complemented with a chapter focusing on and reflecting survivors’ psychological experiences.”

Prior to the annual milestone, Kasperksy and other Coalition members were grateful for the opportunity to partner with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations (UN) Women, is hosting an online event on the issue of stalkerware. A similar event took place last 2 November 2020 when the UN’s Internet Governance Forum hosted a pre-event virtual session, in which a few members of the Coalition Against Stalkerware discussing this matter. This was done together with a representative from Europol’s European Cybercrime Center EC3 in order to identify ways to act together against this developing cyber threat.

As October is also the month dedicated to raising awareness on cybersecurity in many countries, Kaspersky organized regional digital events aimed at users in the German-speaking region of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as in English speaking areas of North America. Kaspersky teamed up with well-known influencers, as well as experts in stalking prevention and combating digital abuse, to reach a wider public audience and inform them about tech-enabled abuse and stalkerware.

As part of its ongoing work, Coalition members have planned a few activities in support of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence – including the WWP EN kicking off a European campaign against cyber-violence – which will run until 10 December. This. The 2020 Responsible Together campaign aims to spread awareness of cyber-violence against women and girls. Kaspersky is proud to be a supporter of this campaign.

Kaspersky will cap the entire period of activism by hosting another regional online event aimed at a French-speaking audience to raise awareness about stalkerware and it will facilitate a discussion on how individuals can protect themselves, with an influencer and the Centre Hubertine Auclert, a French non-profit member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, also taking part. More information about other activities involving Coalition members can be found on the Coalition’s website.

For users who suspect they may be affected or are being impacted by stalkerware, Kaspersky has the following recommendations:
  • Contact your local support organizations or the police. They can give you professional assistance if you are concerned about, or have found, stalkerware on your device. The Coalition Against Stalkerware website is able to provide a list of support organizations
  • Visit and watch an explanatory video by the Coalition Against Stalkerware - both of which are available in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish) - to find helpful information for survivors to better understand and detect the warning signs of stalkerware. The video lists common indicators to check if someone thinks they may be affected by stalkerware, and what steps they should and shouldn’t take
  • Use proven cybersecurity protection, such as Kaspersky Internet Security, to run a check on your device and discover if stalkerware has been installed on it
Author: slickmaster | © 2020 The SlickMaster's Files

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