Analysts from the independent lab AV-Comparatives and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that the situation with the detection of stalkerware applications on Android and Windows is gradually improving.
Let me remind you that the term stalkerware usually refers to commercial spyware, which is positioned as legal. With it, you can access personal data stored on smartphones and tablets of other users.
Stalkerware often disguises itself as parental control applications, employee monitoring software, and even corporate remote access tools. Such software, as a rule, is used for secret surveillance of people, including the initiators of domestic violence, and therefore often carries serious risks for those on whose devices it is installed.
Experts published reportAccording to which the study of this issue was divided into two stages: the first was in November 2019 and the second in May 2020. To conduct the tests, the researchers selected 20 samples of stalkerware for Android and 10 for Windows, based on the popularity of these products in the United States.
As it turned out, 10 mobile anti-virus applications for Android and 10 anti-virus products for Windows “learned” to detect some of the most common types of stalker software today. Thus, many antivirus companies have significantly improved their performance from November 2019 to May 2020.
Analysts at AV-Comparatives say that last November the detection rate for Android spyware ranged from 30% to 95%, but two products detected less than 50% of test cases. In the same period in Windows, the overall level of detection of stalker applications was low even compared to Android: the best result was only 70%, and only two protective products reached this level.
Six months later, in May of this year, most products (for both Android and Windows) significantly increased their stalkerware detection levels. So, 9 out of 10 products for Android now detected from 75% to 95% of malicious samples. All products for Windows improved their performance by at least 70%, and four programs did achieve a 100% result.
Experts say the overall results of this study are encouraging, as they show that the cybersecurity industry is finally ceasing to ignore stalkerware. Let me remind you that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been pushing the industry to classify such products as malicious since 2018 and is trying to inform users about this threat.
Since 2018, more and more anti-virus companies have added rules for detecting spyware applications in their products, and some of them even joined to Coalition Against Stalkerware, a nonprofit group whose goal is to raise awareness of this threat.
I also recall that, according to Kaspersky Lab, in 2019 in Russia the number of users of mobile devices attacked by stalker programs has tripled.