Kaspersky has released its 2021 report on stalkerware, the technology often used to facilitate psychological and physical violence against intimate partners. The report notes a decrease in users affected by stalkerware globally in 2021, likely as a result of perpetrators not feeling the need to use spyware because their partner is more often at home, but an increase in cyber-violence.

With its potential to harm employees' wellbeing and compromise the security of work email and documents, employers need to be aware of stalkerware as a potential tool of domestic abuse.

Stalkerware apps give perpetrators huge power, allowing them to read and monitor messages, call logs, contacts and calendar events, track the device's GPS location, view images and videos in a phone's gallery, take screenshots and read messages on Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Gmail or any other social media apps used.

The UK has the third highest number of users affected by stalkerware in Europe, according to the report. Of 21,000 respondents in 21 countries, 30% didn't see any issue with stalkerware and find it acceptable under certain circumstances. Of those who think there are justifiable reasons for secret surveillance, almost two thirds would engage in the behaviour if they believed their partner was being unfaithful (64%). 

The report also highlights how cyber-violence can correspond with off-line violence, with 15% of respondents worldwide being required by their partner to install a monitoring app and 34% of those also experiencing physical and/or verbal abuse by that intimate partner.

The report also offers tips on how to protect oneself and employees from stalkerware, including using strong passwords and using the discreet TinyCheck tool to detect stalkerware.

For more information, read the full report here.

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