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Antiviruses Detect Stalkerware More Effectively Than Before

Stalkerware is commercially available software used to spy remotely on another person via their device, without the victim giving their consent or being notified. Due to the immense and harmful impact on people’s lives, cybersecurity vendors started to enhance their functionality and alert their users if their device could be affected by stalkerware.

Test Procedure

In its Stalkerware Test 2020, AV-Comparatives, an independent Austrian  industry testing organization, teamed up with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the leading US  nonprofit organization defending digital rights and Founding Partner of our Coalition, to review the antivirus products most used in the United States. AV-Comparatives tested and evaluated the ability of 10 AV products to detect stalkerware on Android and Windows systems. 20 stalkerware apps for Android and 10 stalkerware programs for Windows were selected for this test . The first iteration of tests was performed in November 2019. A second round of tests followed in May 2020.

Results

You may see the results below. 

For Android:

Source: AV-Comparatives. Independent Tests of Anti-Virus Software. URL: https://www.av-comparatives.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/avc_stalkerware_2020.pdf

For Windows:

Source: AV-Comparatives. Independent Tests of Anti-Virus Software. URL: https://www.av-comparatives.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/avc_stalkerware_2020.pdf

There is a clear trend that AV programs manage to react expeditiously to the emerging stalkerware threats. When comparing May 2020 to November 2019, nine out of ten AV products for Android improved their results in bringing awareness to their users about stalkerware installed on a device. When it comes to Windows OS, with no exception all software products showed an increase in detecting stalkerware.

Further Steps

There is still room for improvement in fighting against stalkerware. The phenomenon  of using stalkerware as a domestic violence tool requires more data and research. The Coalition  against Stalkerware takes further steps in raising awareness and educating people about stalkerware, as well as helping the IT-security industry  to respond to this issue.

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