Feeds

Spyware another weapon for domestic abuse

Remote controlling spouses

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Spyware is becoming a tool of domestic abuse, according to security researchers.

Privacy-invading software packages are most commonly associated with surreptitiously snooping on victims to find out the passwords they use for online banking sites or bombarding them with invasive pop-up ads. But spyware can also be used as a tool to monitor and control their spouses by abusive partners, McAfee researcher Anna Stepanov warns.

"With so much of our lives dependent on computers and other technologies such as cell phones, the use of spyware is ideal for abusers, who often feel the need to control all aspects of a victim’s existence," she writes. "Monitoring a victim’s online, cell phone, or general computing activity is of more value than ever in controlling or hurting a victim."

Safe computing has joined finding safe housing as a list of requirements for people fleeing abusive relationships. "There is a strong movement within the [US-based] National Network to End Domestic Violence to educate victims and the general public about safe computing," Stepanov adds. "Many security companies have made sizable monetary donations to this organization to assist in education and to provide aid for securing networks within shelters for victims of domestic violence."

The changing uses of spyware and its continuing evolution are dealt with in a white paper by Stepanov titled Spyware: A Morphing Campaign.

Commercial products such as FlexiSPY, which records information about an individual's mobile phone calls and SMS messages before sending them to a remote server, have already generated controversy over the last couple of years. Packages such as FlexiSPY and Mobile Spy, another similar product, are marketed as a means for parents to keep watch on their child's phone, or enables employers to enforce an acceptable use policy on their staff. The legality of both products has been questioned.

A mobile phone is an obvious target for snoopers, but email inboxes are also a tempting target for control-freaks looking to keep tabs on their partners. Stepanov's research shows that cybercrime in its traditional sense is not the only motive for planting spyware. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.