The espionage of cell phones and computers continues to be on the rise in Brazil. A new survey of the Kaspersky showed that Brazilians are in second place in the global ranking of victims of stalkerware, the name given to spy programs that, although legitimately marketed, are directly associated with abuse and domestic violence.

According to company data, in 2020, more than 6,5 users in the country were watched by these softwares, which represents about 12% of the total attacks in the world. As a result, Brazil was only behind Russia, which had more than 12,3 cases.

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According to the organization Coalition Against Stalkerware (CAS), these programs are widely used, worldwide, as a form of harassment and cyber violence between couples - and the biggest victims are women. Most affected users are unaware that they are being watched, and not even that this type of software exists, which causes impotence on the part of the victim.

CountryAffected Users
Russia12.389
Brazil6.523
United States4.745
India4.627
Mexico1.570
Germany1.547
Iran1.345
Italy1.144
United Kingdom1.009
Arabia saudita968
Global ranking of countries most affected by Stalkerware. Source: Kaspersky

“We found that the number of users affected by stalkerware remained high and we detected new samples every day. It is important to remember that, behind all these numbers, there is a person's real life and, sometimes, a silent cry for help. Our research also serves to raise awareness of the problem and make people understand it better. Our goal is to help end the use of these programs, ”comments Fabio Assolini, senior security analyst at Kaspersky in Brazil.

Compared to 2019, Brazil had a 17% drop in the amount of stalkerware attacks. But this should not be seen as an evolution: according to Kaspersky experts, the decrease in cases was a worldwide trend and is linked to the period of isolation due to the pandemic, since with more people at home, there was less need for surveillance by the aggressors. However, from the months in which the restriction measures loosened in several countries, the cases have resumed the previous rhythm.

Worldwide curve of users affected by stalkerware. Image: Kaspersky

Action against stalkerware and cyber violence

In 2019, Kaspersky co-founded, with nine other organizations, Coalition Against Stalkerware (CAS), which currently has 30 members from five continents. CAS aims to improve stalkerware detection in the industry, the mutual learning of nonprofits and companies and public awareness.

In addition, in November 2020, Kaspersky launched the anti-stalkerware tool TinyCheck, to help nonprofits support victims of domestic violence and protect their privacy. Its unique feature is being able to detect stalkerware and inform affected users without the attacker knowing. The tool is supported by the IT security community, which helps to update it continuously.

What to do before removing stalkerware from a device?

  • Do not be in a hurry to remove the stalkerware found, as the attacker may notice. It is very important to consider that the attacker may pose a security risk. In some cases, as a reaction, the person's aggressive behavior may increase.
  • Contact your local authorities and care organizations that support victims of domestic violence for assistance and security planning. There is a list of relevant organizations in several countries in www.stopstalkerware.org.
  • Assess whether you want to preserve evidence of stalkerware before removing it.
  • Whatever you do, keep your safety a priority.