Similar to fashion, music and political sentiment, cybercrime tends to follow certain trends. When widespread computer virus infections were first reported in the mid-1980s, hackers were mostly interested in replicating their malware creations as much as possible; in many cases, the malicious code of this era was not even very harmful. Cyber vandalism and boot sector malware code were prominent in the late 1990s before spyware and adware became major headaches a decade later. Denial-of-service attacks predated data breaches around 2010, and we are now going through the ransomware era.

The Latest Threats in Cyber Security

Information security specialists believe that stalkerware is bound to become the next major trend in cybercrime. Stalkerware is more advanced than spyware and is usually optimized for mobile devices, although it is often developed for desktops and laptops. Once stalkerware is installed in the target device, malicious code is deployed to conduct total surveillance, which means that every action performed by users on their computers, smartphones or tablets is recorded and transmitted over the internet to remote servers.

Keystrokes, messages, images, audio, video, and online activity can be recorded by stalkerware and compiled into dossiers uploaded to remote locations. Some of these malicious apps make use of utilities known as operating system daemons, which can be coded for illegal surveillance purposes. On mobile devices, stalkerware typically runs as hidden apps while on computers it runs as a background process.

Protect Yourself From Malware

A dismal fact about stalkerware is that it is often marketed and sold to jealous spouses, controlling parents and other individuals who wish to snoop on others for illegal purposes. As the name of this security threat suggests, it is designed for stalking, which is considered to be a felony offense in many states. When stalkerware is installed by relatives, it is a form of domestic abuse and could also lead to criminal charges.

In late January, the servers of a Florida tech firm called Retina-X were breached and reformatted by a hacker who believes that stalkerware is a criminal breach of privacy. The vigilante hacker targeted Retina-X because this company is infamous for selling stalkerware apps that let parents snoop on their children’s smartphones.

Stalkerware is not easy to install, and it can be difficult to detect; the most common sign is a device that starts showing signs of slowing down considerably and lagging in performance. If you think your Windows device has been compromised with stalkerware, contact PC Performance Pros in Victorville and speak with our security technicians.