Cops Receive Stalkerware Training

Members of the Coalition Against Stalkerware are helping law enforcement agencies to investigate cases involving digital stalking.

The Coalition was created in 2019 by ten founding partners: Avira, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence (WWP EN), G DATA Cyber Defense, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, the United States–based National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), NortonLifeLock, Operation Safe Escape, and WEISSER RING.

Earlier this week, Coalition members NNEDV and Kaspersky joined forces with INTERPOL and Australia’s national umbrella organization for domestic violence services, Wesnet, to arrange two online training sessions addressing issues of digital stalking and domestic violence. 

Kaspersky said that the goal of the online training, which involved more than 210 participants, was “to enhance capacity building within law enforcement agencies, support victims requesting assistance, and hold perpetrators to account.”

According to Kaspersky’s State of Stalkerware 2020 report, 53,870 mobile users worldwide were affected by stalkerware in 2020. The commercially available software invades victims’ privacy by providing personal data such as device location, browser history, text messages, social media chats, photos and more to their stalker. 

Wesnet chief executive officer Karen Bentley said cyber-stalking was among the most common forms of abuse to co-occur with domestic and family violence, and was associated with an increased likelihood of lethal and near-lethal harm.

“Digital stalking is an issue known to the global law enforcement community, but there is a need to enhance capabilities around how to conduct investigations on stalkerware,” said Pei Ling Lee, acting assistant director of cyber strategy and capabilities development at INTERPOL. “The software hides itself, and investigations need to be undertaken carefully for the safety of the victims.”

In the online training sessions, law enforcement officers learned about stalkerware and its installation methods along with different ways to detect it without compromising the safety of a victim. They were also introduced to the free anti-stalkerware scanning app TinyCheck.

Earlier this month, the Coalition Against Stalkerware received the J.D. Falk Award for its work raising awareness, increasing detection, and combating the spread of malware used for stalking and intimate partner abuse.