If you have watched the Netflix show You, based on the novel of the same title by Caroline Kepnes, you would know how dangerous a stalker could be. They know your whereabouts and can read your messages when you're not aware.
Unlike You's Joe, many real people don't just tailor the person they like or steal their phones.
Cyber Stalking is More Common Than You Think
In some cases, the stalker could use a paid app or software known as stalkerware, which they would download and install on either your personal computer or your phone while you were still together.
Stalkerware is an app that could intercept calls and texts, log into your web browsing activity, access your location, and more.
According to Business Wire, a recent Harris poll conducted by NortonLifeLock showed that one out of 10 people has admitted that they use stalkware to track their exes or their partners.
Cyberstalking, or the act of using any form of technology to track the whereabouts of a person and learn their personal information, including their address and messages, can take any form, such as using stalkerware.
But if they all have a common denominator, it's that they are obsessive, unwanted, and could sometimes be illegal.
Stalkerware Apps for Good and Bad
According to CNET, these stalkerware apps are so easy to use that there are TikTok videos that are merely 60 seconds long that show people how they can install and use these intrusive apps and track every movement of their partners.
Nevertheless, they seem a little harder to install on iPhones, as long as the stalker does not have the victim's iCloud credentials.
Such was the case of one woman who shared her experience with the news outlet, saying her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend always seemed to know where she was even when she was not with him, and that he knew and talked to her about something she has read on her computer while she was at home, where she lived alone.
Nevertheless, these apps are often marketed as a way to monitor your child or an elderly loved one as well as employees--but almost commonly used with their consent.
How to Know if Your Device Has a Stalkerware
The hard part is that you may not know you have a stalkerware app installed on your device.
According to Kevin Roundy, NortonLifeLock research group's technical director, a stalkerware app could disguise itself as an innocuous icon or won't display the icon at all.
Additionally, Roundy said that these intrusive apps are often working with another software that could hide the stalkerware app's icon on your device so the victims will have no idea that something is installed on their computers or smartphones.
The best way to find an intrusive app is by opening your phone's settings and then looking through your device's running apps.
Since most don't have names or have names that don't sound suspicious, just check for anything that you are not familiar with or haven't installed yourself, and then find another device and search for them online.
You may also use antivirus software on your computer or smartphone, which would scan the entire device and warn you of any well-known stalkerware installed on it.
If you're a victim of domestic abuse or you have a suspicion that you're being stalked, you can also bring your device to the police, but it's not guaranteed that an expert is available and can help you.
Nevertheless, some departments can assist in these cases.
Can You Delete It?
Deleting or uninstalling a stalkerware app is an option, but it's something you should consider carefully, especially as it could put you in more danger if the stalker knows you've deleted the app.
Erica Olsen, who works with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, says that deleting the app could send a message to the stalker, saying they don't have any control over the device and you.
This could then lead some to "escalate the violence, or change stealth stalking to an assault."
Nevertheless, if you have made up your mind, you can delete a stalkerware app in different ways, including doing a factory reset or cutting the app's access to your camera, contacts, messages, web browser, storage, and more, before uninstalling it.
Last, you can ditch the device you think is tampered and then get a new phone or computer.