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Technology Cybersecurity firms form coalition to fight stalkerware

15:15  19 november  2019
15:15  19 november  2019 Source:   cnet.com

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Cybersecurity companies are partnering with domestic violence prevention organizations to take on stalkerware -- tools widely used by abusive partners to track victims "The ubiquity of stalkerware is a complex problem and we need stakeholders from all parts of society in order to fight it effectively."

Stalkerware is bad, so cybersecurity companies should just regard it as malicious and remove it wherever it’s found. We believe the Coalition will attract more partners – IT security companies, advocacy organizations, and even law enforcement agencies — that will help to unify the perception

Cybersecurity companies are partnering with domestic violence prevention organizations to take on stalkerware -- tools widely used by abusive partners to track victims without their knowledge. In October, the Federal Trade Commission settled its first case against a stalkerware company, but this new coalition is looking to do more.

a close up of a machine: Seven stalkerware apps that passed through the Google Play store in the past. Avast© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Seven stalkerware apps that passed through the Google Play store in the past. Avast

On Tuesday, ten groups announced they were creating the Coalition Against Stalkerware, which aims to help affected victims and spread awareness about the stalking tool. The groups include cybersecurity companies like Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, NortonLifeLock, along with organizations like the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Operation Safe Escape.

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Dubbed the Coalition Against Stalkerware (CAS), the collaborative effort aims to fight domestic “The IT security industry gives its input by improving detection of stalkerware and better notifying The newly announced coalition is an effort to combat this growing threat in the cybersecurity

Ten organizations today announced the creation of the Coalition Against Stalkerware , the first global initiative of its kind, with the sole purpose of fighting against stalkerware . Stalkerware refers to apps that abusive partners install on the devices of their loved ones without their knowledge or consent.

Stalkerware is frequently used by stalkers and abusers who quietly download the tracking apps onto victims' phones. The apps send constant updates like a person's location data, phone calls, text messages, photos and microphone feeds. These apps are often disguised as "family tracking apps," and can slip by antivirus programs and app stores.

Eva Galperin, who heads cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called for antivirus companies to start flagging stalkerware in April. The coalition announced Tuesday is a collaborative effort toward that end.

"Stalkerware, used for spying on phones and computers in domestic abuse or harassment situations, is a very serious problem, and it often goes hand in hand with other forms of abuse, up to and including physical violence," Galperin said in a statement. "The ubiquity of stalkerware is a complex problem and we need stakeholders from all parts of society in order to fight it effectively."

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The fight to protect consumers against stalkerware continues as eleven new organizations – AEquitas with its Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource The Coalition seeks to combine its partners’ expertise in domestic violence survivor support, digital rights advocacy, and cybersecurity to address

It's time for the cybersecurity community to fight stalkerware with all they've got. For National Cybersecurity Awareness and Domestic Violence Stalkerware is software that was created to monitor a person’s activities on their computer or, more commonly, their mobile device—without that

a screenshot of a cell phone: Seven stalkerware apps that passed through the Google Play store in the past.© CNET

Seven stalkerware apps that passed through the Google Play store in the past.

Companies like Malwarebytes and Symantec, which owns Norton, said they have been acting against stalkerware for years. Kaspersky first announced that it would start taking action against stalkerware in April.

Part of the issue is that even though multiple security companies work to block stalkerware, they can only detect what's within their own networks. Kaspersky noted that in 2018, it detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices, but that's only on phones using its antivirus software.

By working together and sharing resources, information on a new stalkerware variants discovered by Kaspersky can be provided to other cybersecurity companies and automatically blocked, for example.

The Russian cybersecurity company said it has spotted 380 new variants of stalkerware this year, nearly one-third more than the amount it discovered in 2018.

Stalking software is 'on the rise'

  Stalking software is 'on the rise' Experts warn of a rise in a type of software commonly used by abusive partners to spy on phones."He would drop snippets into conversations, such as knowing about Sarah's baby. Really private things that he shouldn't have known about. If I asked how he knew these things, he'd say I'd told him and accuse me of losing it," she says.

The Coalition seeks to combine its partners’ expertise in domestic violence survivor support, digital rights advocacy, and cybersecurity to address the Growing the number of organizations united to fight stalkerware has never been more important than during these exceptionally difficult times.

The Coalition Against Stalkerware enables us to bring our knowledge on gender-based violence and perpetrators to IT security companies – so About Kaspersky Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
An app wanted to bring back Instagram's creepiest feature for stalking loved ones

"In order to counter this issue, it is important for cybersecurity vendors and advocacy organizations to work together," Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky, Kaspersky's head of anti-malware research, said in a statement. "The IT security industry gives its input by improving detection of stalkerware and better notifying users of this threat to their privacy."

The coalition launched a new website on Tuesday at www.stopstalkerware.org to serve as a resource for victims of stalkerware. It'll have tips on how to check if they've been infected by stalkerware and what steps they should take to protect themselves.

"Studies have shown that 70% of women victims of cyberstalking also experienced at least one form of physical or/and sexualised violence from an intimate partner," Anna McKenzie, communications manager at the European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence, said in a statement. "We need to stop perpetrators from using their partners' phones for stalking and hold them accountable for their violence."

The coalition had been in the works since late July, said David Ruiz, an online privacy writer for Malwarebytes. For years, security companies had disagreed on what they classify as stalkerware, which meant that some antivirus programs blocked certain apps while others didn't.

The group established a standard definition for stalkerware, focusing on non-consensual tracking of victims' devices. The hope is that more security companies will join the coalition, Ruiz said.

"Working with other cybersecurity companies is pivotal to the success of this group," he said. "We can share detection samples, and we can have an agreement to engage in that kind of information sharing."

Homeland Security's former top cybersecurity official to join Google .
Jeanette Manfra, who lead the DHS's efforts on election security, will be starting with Google Cloud in January.Manfra had lead the DHS's efforts on securing the US elections, helping to coordinate cybersecurity protections for local voting officials across the country. The news was first reported by CyberScoop and confirmed by CNET.

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