The outfit said it would start flagging stalkerware as malicious, and warn people through its Android app when stalkerware is installed on their phones. In 2018 Kaspersky Lab detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices.
Stalkerware is difficult for antivirus apps to spot. It is frequently used by stalkers and abusers to spy on people through their phones. It turns victims' phones into surveillance devices, letting an attacker track a person's every step and listen in on every word. Apple users will be familiar with it because for a while iOS had a feature that enabled stalkers to do that before someone complained and Apple fixed it.
On Android, stalkerware is quietly installed on people's devices, and then accesses personal data including GPS location, text messages, photos and microphone feeds. You don't have to be an expert to get your hands on it -- stalkerware is sold online, for as little as a few hundred dollars. Some purveyors offer subscription plans for $68 a month.
Alexey Firsh, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said it had been motivated to start flagging stalkerware apps after speaking with Eva Galperin, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's head of cybersecurity.
"As a result, we now flag commercial spyware with a specific alert which warns users of the dangers stalkerware poses. We believe users have a right to know if such a programme is installed on their device."
Kaspersky Lab's scan will now detect stalkerware apps and give users the option to delete them. The protection is only available on Android devices because stalkerware isn't as prevalent on iOS, Kaspersky Lab said. We guess that is because Saudi Arabia just needs a couple and it will never have to buy another Coldplay or U2 album ever again.