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How to Find and Remove Stalkerware on Your Computer

How to Find and Remove Stalkerware on Your Computer
The Siliconreview
10 Febuary, 2022

Internet use creates many privacy concerns for users. This is primarily because of the several dangerous activities perpetrated on the web.

More and more of your life is online, which means there is a trace of your activities throughout the day. Although digital devices improve the quality of life for their users, it presents new problems when it comes to privacy. The data you leave behind can leave you vulnerable in the wrong hands.

Software that can invade your privacy includes stalkerware. Stalkerware can turn your PCs and mobile gadgets into listening devices that track your every move on the internet. You need to find and remove them.

What is Stalkerware?

The Coalition Against Stalkerware refers to stalkerware as tools that secretly monitor someone else's private life. It is malicious software that enables someone to track you. The person typically installs it without your knowledge or consent. Once it is in the device, the stalkerware application monitors your data and reports them to the stalker.

Stalkerware can monitor text messages, locate your whereabouts with GPS, and access your data like photos and contacts. The software may also be used by those with well-meaning intentions, like overprotective parents. Alternatively, the stalker might be someone with ill intentions, like an ex, your current partner, or a hacker.

Signs You Might Have Stalkerware

Although the stalkerware may be hiding, you can look for signs that can hint at their existence, such as;

  • High data traffic on your mobile data reports. People often wonder, "why is my computer so slow or consuming so much data?" That can be the work of stalkerware. The software has to collect data and send it to the stalker, so if you notice that you have abnormally high data traffic, you might have stalkerware.
  • Unusually fast draining of the battery of your device. Stalkerware is always on, monitoring your data and sending it. Their activities will naturally drain your battery.
  • Granted permissions of installed apps. If under your access permissions, you notice that there are also odd apps that have permissions to your camera, microphone, photos, and other areas of your phone, you need to investigate. If you don't trust the app, delete or revoke its permissions.
  • Constant overheating of your device. When your device constantly processes information, it will start to heat up.

How To Find Stalkware

You can start by looking through your installed apps. If you notice an app out of place, do an internet search. If it doesn't belong to a trusted OS or app, you should be wary of it.

If you use Google, you can visit your Google account page. Click on device activity and notifications to track devices that have access to your account. If you find an unrecognizable device with access to your account, you may have been compromised.

Facebook also has features that link you to other platforms. To view the platforms and accounts with access to your Facebook account, you can go to your Facebook account's security page and check the settings page to see active sessions. Log out from suspicious ones.

How to Remove Stalkerware

If you find an app that isn't supposed to be on your device, delete or uninstall it. Once you have removed the stalkerware, you will have to safeguard your computer, data, and accounts.

You will need to change your security questions, and passwords on accounts you think are under surveillance. The password must be strong, containing small-cap letters, capital letters, numbers, and special characters. A strong password that isn't easy to guess is your first and best defense.

Activate two-step verification to your accounts. This will fortify your sensitive accounts (social media, shopping sites, or bank accounts) since, after the strong password, access will only be possible after the second authentication on your phone or email. You will have a notification when anyone tries to access your accounts.

Turn permissions off for unknown apps using your microphone, location, or camera as a precaution. Once you have thoroughly researched them and are confident of their use, you can grant them access.

Update the version (operating system) of your device. The older your OS, the easier it is to bug, so keep your version on the latest one available. Malware, like stalkerware, takes advantage of security holes in your system.

You can initiate a factory reset on mobile devices. A factory reset will delete all apps, both malicious and those you like, from your phone so that you will start afresh. After that, you will have to watch any new apps you download.

Stay Stalker Free

Most stalkerware requires physical access to your device or for you to fall for a phishing scam. So stay vigilant about whom you give your device to and the links you click on. If you suspect you may have it on your device, take steps to remove it and secure your accounts.