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Interpol announces it will join the Coalition Against Stalkerware

By Ryan Morris-Reade, 30 Apr 2021

The international criminal police organisation Interpol has announced that it will join forces with the Coalition Against Stalkerware, which cybersecurity company Malwarebytes is a part of.

This it says is an attempt to enhance the global law enforcement community’s ability to investigate the use of stalkerware, while supporting victims who request assistance.

Global partners of the Coalition Against Stalkerware around the world say they saw a stark increase in domestic violence and tech abuse incidents in 2020. For instance, Malwarebytes says it saw a 565% increase in the use of apps that monitor user activity between January and December 2020.

Interpol says it will promote training sessions developed by the Coalition in its 194 member countries, which it says will help investigate the use of stalkerware, support victims requesting assistance, and hold perpetrators accountable.

It says that monitoring someone through their phone or computer is a form of violence and can cause considerable fear for victims. Interpol says commercial stalkerware software allows perpetrators to secretly monitor others through their devices which they say is a rapidly spreading threat, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation says that domestic violence has intensified since the outbreak of the pandemic, with the United Nations calling violence against women during COVID-19 a shadow pandemic. 

It says that fighting against the multifaceted issue of stalkerware requires global and collective action from cybersecurity vendors, non-governmental organisations, law enforcement, and academia.

To this end it says 10 key actors in the global cybersecurity ecosystem have come together and created the Coalition Against Stalkerware, a global initiative to provide support to survivors of domestic violence, combat the use of stalkerware, and work towards increasing public awareness about this issue. Since its beginning, the coalition has grown to more than 35 members across the world, gaining momentum in helping to combat and educate against these threats.

“We understand that all key partners must join together to fight against this pervasive tactic of abuse,” says Kaspersky’s official representative for the Coalition Against Stalkerware, Tara Hairston.

“Given that law enforcement should be able to identify and respond to the threats posed by stalkerware, it's great to see the Interpol devoted to working with their global community around the topic of intimate partner violence, unwanted surveillance and abuse.

“Alongside the Interpol and our other partners, we will work to ensure no survivor ever has to fall victim to stalkerware again,” she says.

The founding members of the Coalition include Avira, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence, G DATA Cyber Defense, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, the U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence, NortonLifeLock, Operation Safe Escape, and WEISSER RING.

“Interpol is committed to supporting the Coalition Against Stalkerware in its fight against abuse, stalking and harassment via the use of stalkerware,” says Interpol’s director of cybercrime, Craig Jones.

“To this end, we will continue to raise awareness within the global law enforcement community about intimate partner violence and unwanted surveillance and abuse.”

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