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By Bruce Sussman
Thu | Apr 4, 2019 | 3:25 PM PDT

 We didn't think much about the story when we published it.

Is Your Spouse Cheating on You? The App for That Got Hacked was about—surprisean app getting hacked. As a news portal for cybersecurity professionals, we've published plenty of those stories.

But this story led to an unexpected response.

A flood of (attempted) blog comments have come in from cyber criminals and hackers offering their services to catch a cheating spouse or spy on that no good so and so you can no longer trust.

Our media team wondered: There seem to be a lot of people peddling this type of spying for hire. Who are they really marketing to?

We put the puzzle pieces together just this week after we read a chilling story in WIRED on stalkerware.

White hat hacker Eva Galperin explained how this type of spying technology easily placed on phones is being used by abusers and keeps an electronic leash on those trying to escape domestic abuse.

"Full access to someone’s phone is essentially full access to someone’s mind," says Galperin, a security researcher who leads the Threat Lab of the digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The people who end up with this software on their phones can become victims of physical abuse, of physical stalking. They get beaten. They can be killed. Their children can be kidnapped. It’s the small end of a very large, terrifying wedge."

She told WIRED that survivors of domestic abuse have actually come to her describing how their tormentors amazingly know everyone they've called and everyone they've texted.

That's the privacy busting power of stalkerware and spying-as-a-service offerings. Here are two examples of the posts we are continually blocking on that "cheating spouse" story:


hacker-for-hire-blogThese comments seemed like simple spam advertising to us at first. But now, after reading Eva Galperin's story, they feel much darker.

Anything to make a buck, including helping abusers stalk their prey.

"I want to recommend a reliable hacker who helped me hack my wife's phone remotely which gave me full access to her phone."

Galperin says she's out to change that, out to protect those who are trapped by stalkerware.

According to WIRED, she's asking Apple to take measures to protect iPhone users from stalkerware, lobbying legislators, and pushing antivirus companies to look harder at the threat.

Perhaps if her efforts are successful, domestic violence victims will be safer and all of us will have mobile devices that become more secure.

And we can all use a little more endpoint security, right?