As restrictions on going out continued due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people turned their pent-up feelings into aggression toward others. During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in escape behaviors such as Internet addiction and gaming addiction, as well as aggressive behaviors such as blaming, slander, domestic violence, and abuse.
Another issue is that the use of stalkerware (stalker apps) is also on the rise. Let’s take a look at the actual damage caused, countermeasures, how to find it, and how to delete it.
Stalkerware damage in Japan has increased tenfold in two years
Stalkerware is an app that is installed on a smartphone without the other party’s consent and sends information such as location information, call records, messages, etc.
As the name suggests, it allows you to see through the other person’s actions, so it can be abused by people who want to know everything about the other person or control them. It can be used fraudulently not only by spouses and dating partners, but also by ex-spouses, former dating partners, and even people you don’t know.
In fact, it turns out that this disturbing app is widely used in Japan as well. According to the Avast Threat Research Institute, stalkerware specifications after March 2020 are 51% nationwide and 165% in Japan compared to January-February 2020.increaseIt is said that he did. This is exactly the kind of damage that has increased rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After that, the risk of Japanese internet users becoming victims of stalkerware will increase from 2020 to 2022.10 times(900% increase). Japan had the largest increase of 239% compared to the average (239% increase) of the countries surveyed (US, UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Argentina). There is.
In 2021, when a woman brought her car in for a routine inspection, she discovered that it was equipped with a GPS gadget, which is also used to investigate cheating. It was also discovered that stalkerware had been installed on the Android smartphone without their knowledge. When police investigated the purchaser of the GPS gadget, it was discovered that the man had been stalking the woman at the store, and the man was arrested on charges of violating the Stalking Control Act and illegally providing electromagnetic records. Incidents like this are happening all over the country.
Examples of abusing child monitoring apps
Stalkerware is not the only thing used for stalking. For example, there are many cases where children’s monitoring apps are used. In addition, there have been cases where the iOS “Find” app, the Android “Find My Device” app, and the anti-lost tag “AirTag” have been misused. This is done with a variety of things, including information posted on social media and location information sharing apps.
Note that a monitoring app that can be used appropriately for children and the elderly is one that is set up with the consent of the other person for the purpose of watching over them. Although it is possible to understand location information, it is not possible to know the contents of messages and calls.
Stalkerware, on the other hand, is different in that it collects information beyond what is socially acceptable, such as without the consent of the other party and even the contents of messages and phone calls.
Things to be careful about when dealing with stalkerware
Stalkerware is often installed by someone else without permission, or by being directed to a fraudulent website. In the case of the woman mentioned above, it is believed that the device was put into a smartphone that had been left at a store without permission.
If stalkerware has been installed, you may see signs such as the battery draining quickly, the smartphone operating slowly, or being unable to turn off the smartphone. You should also be careful if your browser or icon settings have been changed without your knowledge, or if a suspicious message such as a pop-up or error message suddenly appears.
If you are concerned, check to see if any suspicious apps are installed and delete them if you find them. Many stalkerware systems notify the other party when you delete an app, so make sure to do so in a safe place.
At this time, if you restart in safe mode, only the factory-installed apps will start, and apps downloaded and installed after purchase will not start. If you use your smartphone in its factory state, i.e. in safe mode, and there are no problems, you should be able to tell that the problem is caused by an app you installed after purchase.
In order to prevent the damage of slow carware being installed, it is important not only to not leave your smartphone unattended, but also to lock the screen. Do not easily tap on suspicious URLs. It’s even safer if you have antivirus software installed.
Stalkerware itself is not illegal, but depending on how it is used, it can become an illegal act, and your privacy and personal safety can be at risk. We hope that you can refer to the methods we have introduced and use them safely.
IT journalist and visiting professor at Seikei University. He specializes in social media, teen internet usage, and information moral literacy. He is knowledgeable about smartphone and internet-related incidents and troubles, as well as ICT education. He is involved in writing, lecturing, media appearances, and supervision. His column is currently published in Kyoiku Publishing Junior High School Japanese Textbook. Former elementary school teacher.