After years of changes, stalkerware has evolved to rigorously scrutinize anti-virus applications. On Wednesday, Kaspersky Lab said it had flagged the tracking software as a malicious program and alerted users when they installed the tracking app on the phone. In 2018, Kaspersky Lab detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices.
Stalkerware, also known as “spyware“, “consumer monitoring software”, etc., takes the form of an application or modifies the device so that someone can remotely monitor the activity of the target. For example, an application called Mobistealth allows a watcher to read text on a target device and view photos and secretly access the GPS location of their phone.
Kaspersky Lab said that after talking to Eva Galperin, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s head of cybersecurity, the company has begun to tag the tracking application as a malicious program. “As a result, we now flag commercial spyware with a specific alert which warns users of the dangers stalkerware poses,” Alexey Firsh, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement. “We believe users have a right to know if such a program is installed on their device.”
In an interview with Wired, Galperin said that Kaspersky Lab’s initiative could be responded to by other anti-virus companies and then become the industry standard. In the future, Kaspersky Lab’s scan will not only detect the presence of tracking software but will also provide users with the option to delete them.