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Why is spyware, stalkerware gaining traction during the pandemic?

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

Why is spyware, stalkerware gaining traction during the pandemic?

Context:

There was a 51 per cent increase in the use of spyware and stalkerware during the lockdown period from March to June.

What are spy and stalkerware apps?

  • Spy and stalkerware apps, like viruses and other malware, infect devices that are connected to the internet.
  • While viruses and malware can be detected by anti-virus software, spyware and stalkerware apps disguise themselves as useful and send out stolen data to central servers without the knowledge of the users.

How are they installed?

  1. A spyware app can be installed remotely.
  2. A stalkerware app can be installed only when someone has physical access to the digitally connected device. 

What do they do?

A spyware app accesses the data usage pattern of the device, gains access to photos and videos as well as other personal information of the user, and then passes it off to a central server.

A stalkerware app works in a manner similar to spyware apps. It also gives out the location of the device to a master device which controls the stalkerware app.

Most stalkerware apps work in stealth mode with no trace of the app having ever been installed. Once installed, such apps can allow the master device to control, intercept, and even change your emails, text messages and your communication on social media platforms.

Why has the usage of such apps increased during lockdown?

Increased usage of internet by everyone due to various lockdown measures in place. This provides enough opportunities for cyber criminals.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Spyware.
  2. Stalkerware.
  3. Trojan.
  4. Virus.
  5. Worms.
  6. Hoax.

Sources: Indian Express.