Feeds

Spyware another weapon for domestic abuse

Remote controlling spouses

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.