I hold my hands up 🙌 and freely admit that advances in technology have in many ways shaped our lives for the better. We can do so much from the comfort of our own homes that I can remember requiring multiple trips to different areas when I was growing up (I swear not that old, and no I wasn't running away from consists dinosaurs 🦖 as a kid). From online shopping with same-day delivery, getting your financial affairs in order with online banking and keeping up to date with detailed news without having to nip down to the newsagent to pick up a paper 🗞️, the world has shifted significantly since I was born.\n\nThis is Why We Can't Have Nice Things\n\nSo with many positive advancements for us to benefit from, it breaks my heart to see nefarious tools such as Spyware and Stalkerware seemingly becoming more and more commonplace and widely adopted. This software, when installed on user device(s) allow for the spying and snooping of that user through the compromised device, including recording phone calls, switching on the microphone, reading messages and viewing real-time location information (displayed on a pretty map). This can lead to some really serious privacy violations, and grant abusive people super powers, without the "with great power comes great responsibility" Spidey mantra.\n\nStalkerware: The Software that Spies on Your Partner\n\nInside the 'Stalkerware' Surveillance Market, Where Ordinary People Tap Each Other's Phones\n\nIt's scary to think that we've reached this point in society where ordinary citizens are able to weaponise technology against the people in their lives. The first link has an example of abusive partner controlling and gaslighting their victim (truly abhorrent) and the second link shows suspicious partners using it to dig up dirt and confirm their suspicions. All of this is really upsetting, and eats at the foundations of any successful relationship, the concepts of trust and respect. By choosing to use our physical access to someone's device to install Spyware/Stalkerware, these foundations go right out of the window.\n\nGlasses on your keyboard watching your every move\n\nYou can make any argument regarding why the application was necessary for whichever use case, but ultimately, Spyware/Stalkerware works because it is stealthily placed on a device without the owners consent and permission. If they knew it was there, they would likely behave very differently, and the presence of the application would be useless. The installation of such software requires the perpetrator to abuse a position of trust, and then subsequently lie to the trusting party for the period of time the software is in action, and even after that if they don't own up to the activity.\n\nAs an aside, if you trust your partner so little that you are compelled to install a Spyware app on their electronic devices, then you are as much a problem in the relationship as they potentially could be (IF they are betraying you). If you find out they are innocent, would you feel compelled to come clean about your actions? Spying activity is also a betrayal, no matter the reason, so bare that in mind.\n\nExposure to Further Danger\n\nIt isn't a stretch to say that the suppliers of such invasive software don't really value privacy highly, as it is their business model to circumvent it and obtain data without prior consent. This unfortunate truth manifests itself in other ways, and by installing this software on the device of someone who *TRUSTS YOU*, there is the possibility that you are exposing them to further danger beyond just you (and yes YOU are a danger). Firstly, have you bothered to read the privacy statements of the developers? Who ultimately has access to the data that you in partnership with them are ultimately collecting from the person who *TRUSTS YOU*? Obviously, YOU have access, but who else? Can this company even be trusted? Do their words even matter? Do yours?\n\nHolding hands whilst being that person who trusts you\n\nWhilst mulling over those questions, you should also consider the other dangers that the person who *TRUSTS YOU* is now being exposed to. Again, these companies profit from invading privacy, so actively securing the data they collect might not be a large priority of theirs. Can a company like this ever be believed if they were ever to utter the famous phrase "we take your privacy and security very seriously"? I ask as this phrase is popularly trotted out in the event of a breach, and there have been NUMEROUS breaches of this kind of company. By entering into partnership with this kind of establishment to spy on someone who *TRUSTS YOU*, you are complicit in and should be jointly held responsibly for any data that is lost and/or stolen.\n\nSpyware firm SpyFone Leaves Customer Data, Recordings Exposed Online\n\nHacker Claims Spyware Maker Retina-X Has Been Breached, Again\n\nRetina-X Studios Server Breached by Hackers\n\nThis Spyware Data Leak Is So Bad We Can't Even Tell You About It\n\nSpyware Company That Marketed to Domestic Abusers Gets Hacked\n\nMobile Spyware Maker mSpy Leaks Millions of Records – AGAIN\n\nSo someone who *TRUSTS YOU* was living their life, minding their own business and now, due to no fault of their own, has to worry and about HUGELY SENSITIVE data being stolen and leaked out on the internet. Congratulations! Well done! You've exploited a position of trust and helped ruin someone's life, you should be so proud! This is all because trust wasn't reciprocated, what a splendid world we reside in. At the very least let's hope they were guilty to provide "SOME" sense of moral justification. I've mentioned before how it irks me when you trust a company with your data and they get breached and try and play it down. Here, your victim didn't even make this decision and yet here we are in the same place because of you.\n\nFundamental Flaws in Consumer Tracking\n\nIt seems that from a security point of view, we have a long way to go regarding the security of the products and services that we buy. Are these being developed with security in mind? I want to believe so, but I read about too many breaches almost daily, with an abundance of the tired, worn out phrase that signifies how little companies care about privacy and security.\n\nWe take the privacy and security of your data seriously\n\nIn certain cases, people actually want to track others with the best of intentions. Take the tracking smart-watch which some parents get their children to wear so they know where they are at all times (I'm not currently a parent and don't understand the thought process behind this). I would assume that parents have in some way reasoned that this kind of device keeps their children safer, but again they could be exposing their children to similar dangers as previously explained. There have been notable breaches of these watches, which included the ability to remotely manipulate location of the watch! Scary stuff, your child could be many miles away from the location reported, just because of a vulnerability. An attacker could also call the child, leading to other potential issues.\n\nTicTocTrack Smartwatch Flaws Can Be Abused to Track Kids\n\nHow to Track Your Kids (and Other People's Kids) With the TicTocTrack Watch\n\nAttackers Can Track Kids’ Locations via Connected Watches\n\nConnected Wristwatch Allows Hackers to Stalk, Spy On Children\n\nDisturbing Security Flaws in Smartwatches for Children\n\nCCTV Camera spying on everything\n\nDoes some weird kind of 'peace of mind' justify attaching a large attack surface to the dependants who rely on you to keep them safe? That's for you to decide, not me. What I will say is that when it comes to security, you do in life get what you pay for, so try not to skimp out on cost, especially for consumer-grade electronics if the privacy and security of your data means something to you. Also, don't skimp out on your research, get to know the company, read their privacy and security policies and familiarise yourself with their terms and conditions BEFORE you include their tech into your life. Ask questions!\n\nLooking At Your Reflection in the Mirror\n\nHowever, if you are out there asking questions, ask yourself if it is really necessary to track someone who trusts you? Whether if it is from a position of care or a desire to be nefarious, do you really need to install that app or fasten that watch? Is having such an in-depth view of their lives worth the very real danger that you could be putting them in? Are you willing to become the villain of the story should your partner in crime (the tracking company) have their defenses breached in seemingly common occurrences? Would you be able to look someone in the eye and tell them what you did without remorse? There is a reason why the US Federal Trade Commission is now acting on these companies and why organisations like Kaspersky and the Electronic Frontier Foundation speak out against these tools, so do you really want to be involved in all of that?\n\nFTC Takes a Stand Against Stalker Apps Through Retina-X Court Settlement\n\nKaspersky Lab Looks to Combat 'Stalkerware' with New Android Geature\n\nThis kind of intrusive behaviour, with or without consent from the subject really has the potential to damage lives. Are you willing to shoulder that responsibility? If so, great, carry on 😀👍!\n\nTracking Our Behaviour\n\nDespite great advances in positive technology, we are also seeing the usage of tools which are questionable regarding what they accomplish. By exploiting a position of trust in order to spy on those who trust us, we are entering into a partnership with organisations whose very business model flies in the face of one's right to privacy. When installed, these tools can present other unforeseen dangers for the victim which is unfair as they themselves are unwitting participants. These dangers even exist for dependents who know they are being tracked, so questions must be asked all of this tracking behaiour is even worth the trouble caused. If you are happy to accept the responsibility, I hope you can live with any consequences which may come your way.\n\nTake care and all the best. Si.