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Is There Such a Thing as Spyware Abuse?

spyware-imageWe have all heard about spyware. It is a form of malware that can be installed on computers that can give the hacker varying different levels of control over the victim’s computer. We have also all heard of domestic abuse. In fact, according to Safe Horizon, one in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse at some point in her life. (Safe Horizon) With domestic abuse such a problem in the modern day, it should come as no surprise, then, that abusers are using technology as a part of their method. This includes spyware.

Spyware Used in Abuse

Many abusers are also controlling, and they will go to great lengths to ensure thy know everything that their partner is doing. By using spyware, they can track their partner to a ridiculous degree, reading texts, listening to phone calls, knowing exactly where the partner is at all times, etc.

According to a recent survey by Digital Trust, more than half of abusers will use technology in some way to control or spy on their abuse victim. So, in other words, not only does spyware abuse exist, but it is running rampant and certainly on the rise.

Easy Access to Spyware

The main reason why this is growing quickly into what some people are referring to as epidemic proportions is the ease of accessibility to spyware and tracking devices. The spyware code itself is often available for free on the Internet in hacker forums. Even any of the malware that costs money is very affordable.

As far as tracking devices, they can be purchased for less than one hundred dollars. That means virtually anyone will have access to them.

There are websites dedicated to this type of spyware for sale too. Some of them market to employers who need to keep track of the people to work for them. Some of them are much more blatant. For example, one specifically says it is designed for men to find out if their wives are cheating on them. The company goes so far as to say women lie all the time, and the spyware they sell allows the person to dial into a phone and turn on its microphone. This only scratches the surface of the spyware that’s available too.

All it takes is the abuser sending their partner an email with spyware attached or giving their partner a new phone or device that has a tracker already installed. Then, the spyware abuse can begin.

There has even been a dramatic increase in ex-spouses using children to get to their past partner. Studies have shown that parents will present their child with an electronic Christmas or birthday gift that is actually working as a tracker, preloaded with spyware. At that point, the abuser now has access to what is going on in their ex’s home.

Technology is only going to get more and more capable, and that means more and more tools will be put in the hands of abusers. There have already been cases of abusers playing back phone calls or reading back emails and then threatening the victim. This could get worse in the near future.

The one point of good news is all of this is that cyber stalking and using spyware to further abuse will almost always leave a breadcrumb trail. The right investigators will be able to trace the abuse back to the abuser themselves. If you believe anyone is using spyware to keep tabs on you, then you need to contact cyber investigators as soon as possible. By letting experts look at your device before you delete the spyware, they can track down its origin more easily.