Smartphones Used By Abusers to Stalk Victims
Cyberstalking Makes Use of Smartphones
The conveniences that have been made available to us through our cell phones is often astonishing—getting directions when you are lost, finding the cheapest gas as you travel, finding a great place to eat. But smartphones also have a dark side, with features that make a stalker’s job a whole lot easier.
An area of concern for law enforcement officers—the use of smartphones to track the location and movements of a victim of domestic violence or abuse. With tools known as spyware, abusers can essentially plant a tracking device on the victim’s phone, allowing them to determine where that phone (and usually the person) is at any time. Most can be installed in less than two minutes, and can be set up so that the phone’s user can’t tell it’s there. In fact, many of the programs allow remote access and activation, once installed, and allow you to remove any visible trace of the spyware. It’s typically designed to look like a normal part of the phone’s operating system. Once you have installed the spyware on a person’s phone, you can monitor their movements and whereabouts from your own phone or a desktop computer.
Another common type of spyware is what is known as “keylogger” spyware, which records everything the user types into his or her smartphone. With the more sophisticated spyware tools, there are additional functions, including:
- The ability to block incoming calls on the victim’s phone, or to make other changes in the phones settings
- The ability to listen to any conversations on the victim’s phone
In a study conducted by National Public Radio, 85% of the domestic violence shelters interviewed said that they had helped victims whose abusers tracked them using some form of GPS, and three out of four said that they worked with victims who had been subjected to remote eavesdropping of their phones. As a result, more and more domestic violence shelters are recommending that women coming into their programs turn off their GPS and Wi-Fi, and not use Facebook.
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