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Monday, 01 March 2021 11:05

Kaspersky launches TinyCheck tool to help in fighting online stalkers

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Noushin Shabab: "The real concern is that most everyday people do not know how to detect if they are being spied on, or how to protect themselves from online stalking." Noushin Shabab: "The real concern is that most everyday people do not know how to detect if they are being spied on, or how to protect themselves from online stalking." Supplied

Global security vendor Kaspersky has released an open-source tool known as TinyCheck, to help those who are being stalked online, during the Pause Fest Digital Startup and Innovation Conference which opened on Monday.

Senior security researcher Noushin Shabab, who launched the tool and gave the opening keynote, said: "In the last two years our researchers detected 1140 affected users with cases of stalkerware in Australia. Globally the US sat in third place and the UK in ninth spot with cases of stalkerware.”

While the number of cases had fallen slightly from 2019, she said this did not take away the reality of the situation.

“Perpetrators know about stalkerware and how to use it. The real concern is that most everyday people do not know how to detect if they are being spied on, or how to protect themselves from online stalking. This has to change," Shabab added.

The TinyCheck tool needs to be installed on a Raspberry Pi running Debian's Buster distribution. The tool is now in a trial phase.

warning

The Android version of Kaspersky Internet Security showing a privacy alert (on right); the standard virus warning can be seen on the left. Supplied

Kaspersky is part of the Coalition Against Stalkerware and the first Australian member is the peak body for domestic and family violence services, WESNET.

Chief executive Karen Bentley said: “In our national survey of 442 frontline practitioners, 99.3% have clients experiencing technology abuse.

"In Australia, we can safely say that survivors of domestic violence are almost certainly experiencing some form of abuse through technology. Worryingly, 70% of respondents also saw stalking co-occurring with technology abuse.”

Shabab said during the pilot phase for TinyCheck, Kaspersky would work with WESNET to further test and develop the app.

"Following the joint work, we will be able to understand better what is the best way forward to make trainings for front line workers available," she added.

"It is important to see that TinyCheck is an easy tool, but there are some practical questions, not least concerning the availability of the equipment like the Raspberry Pi, that need to be thought through.

"So together with WESNET we will find good answers to those questions."

Bentley said: "We will be working with our network of 300 or so frontline agencies in the first instance. We know that one of the issues that many survivors face is not knowing whether or not there is stalkerware on their device.

"And that becomes really important if someone is planning to flee a relationship. They need to know whether or not their mobile phone is going to give away their location.

"So the preliminary target audience for this project will be some of our network members, like high-security women’s refuges. We will look to trialling the devices in some of those agencies with a view to being able to have them available across our wider network in the future.

"The first point of action is to test out TinyCheck with Kaspersky because it helps WESNET support survivors of domestic violence to protect these individuals and their privacy.

"After we have completed testing this tool, our future plans are to have a pilot ready to go, training for the frontliners together with a complete risk and safety plan."

Kaspersky said any individual experiencing online stalking or domestic abuse could install Kaspersky Internet Security For Android.

"As per the screenshot below, a warning or privacy alert is immediately sent to the survivors phone informing them that they are probably under surveillance. This app also has a free solution," the company said.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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