Stalkerware Explained

In this article, we explain the stalkerware apps and show you how to protect yourself from phone monitoring...


Working from home may be nice but it also brings along its own set of challenges. For instance, it enables companies to remotely monitor employees using special software.

While that may be mandatory in some instances and you may have to agree to that practice — depending on your job — there are also instances when someone is watching every step you make without you ever knowing about it. The individual or the organization that’s tracking other people is using special software for this called stalkerware. It is a type of commercially available spyware that lets you monitor people you have a personal relationship with.

Stalkerware is most commonly used for monitoring employees and children, and I guess those are its legal use cases. However, some people also use it to spy on spouses or intimate partners, which is just creepy.

3 types of stalkerware

Generally speaking, there are 3 different types of stalkerware:

Apps that monitor communications
This software is used for capturing conversations or even everything you type. So it’s not just what you send in an email, but also across all other platforms. Spooky.

Apps that track locations
This type of stalkerware is mostly used for tracking children, but there are also some spookier use cases, like when someone wants to know where his/her spouse is at any given time.

Apps that steal files
This is more of a hack than stalkerware, as this sort of an app will watch your device for any changes and transmit them to a special server the stalker can access.

How do you know that your device is running a stalkerware?

While it is not clear, there are a few signs that can tell you that you’re running a stalkerware on your device:

  • The device is behaving strangely after you leave it unattended
  • Unusual processes running in the background (which you can see in a task/app manager)
  • Your device’s battery is depleting faster than usual
  • Some apps and services have altered permissions

No one likes to be watched over, so…

How can you protect yourself against stalkerware?

Some of the things you could do to protect yourself against stalkerware include:

  • Watch for unusual behavior on your devices such as faster battery drain or a sudden increase in data consumption.
  • Make all your passwords strong and enable multi-factor authentication everywhere (across apps and devices).
  • Ensure that your operating system and apps are all up to date so that any known vulnerabilities are patched.
  • Make regular backups so that if you notice something strange, you can (relatively) quickly wipe your device clean and restore your data.

Bear in mind that the use of stalkerware and other forms of monitoring software is growing with the day and that you should stay vigilant against it to protect your privacy and your safety. In that sense — if you still don’t have one — get yourself a VPN today.