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Safety & security

Security alert: Devices most commonly used to spy on spouses and partners [List]

When securing your tech devices, the big news and advice usually point towards protecting yourself from scammers and hackers. While this is important, threats can also come from somewhere closer to home.

Your phone can be used by strangers as well as people you know to track your movements. One man found a flaw in Google Maps that allowed him to follow his wife’s movements from his phone. Tap or click here for instructions on how to stop others from tracking you through Google Maps.

It’s not just your phone to worry about when it comes to stalking and other forms of domestic abuse. A new partnership was recently formed to combat tech abuse. The group has researched which IoT (Internet of Things) devices put domestic abuse victims at risk. Read on to see the top 10 list.

The partnership

Digital security company Avast and domestic abuse charity Refuge joined forces a few months ago. In a blog post from Avast, the company cites a 93% increase in the usage of spyware and stalkerware apps in the U.K. since the first lockdown measures were put in place.

Refuge and Avast are members of the Coalition against Stalkerware, a group formed in response to the growing use of stalkerware. Other partners include digital rights advocacy, domestic survivor, IT security, academia/security research and law enforcement groups.

The team just released new research highlighting tech abuse. The focus is on the top 10 IoT devices reported as being used against domestic abuse victims. This information could also be helpful to those who are divorced or out of an abusive relationship.

The biggest culprits can be found in your home

The list includes common smart devices you may not give a second thought to. Some are even designed to protect you, and it’s frightening to think they can be turned against you.

Refuge has been getting more reports from women seeking help on securing their tech. The following are the most common devices reported:

  • RING doorbells
  • Amazon Alexa-enabled devices
  • Google Home Hub
  • Nest systems and smart thermostats
  • Smart TVs
  • Smart Plugs
  • Fitness trackers and Smartwatches (Apple Watch)
  • Wireless systems
  • Smart locks
  • CCTV Cameras

This research focused on 2,000 women in the U.K. Of that group, 66% didn’t know where to get help or information on securing home devices if needed. That number increased to 79% for women aged 45 and over.

Also, 41% of women in the study said that a partner or family member has the password to their devices. With 28% of these women saying they didn’t willingly share this information.

Make sure your tech is secure

Your smart tech is particularly vulnerable just by its vicinity to you. Making sure it’s all secure is crucial, particularly at the end of a relationship or divorce. Bitter feelings can lead to domestic abuse from people you would never have suspected. As always, it’s best to play it safe.

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from abusers:

  • Make a list of passwords you may have shared with your ex and change them all. You may think you’re safe if you used a password manager, but others may have access to that. So you need to change your login credentials to the password manager as well as all the passwords it has stored. The same goes for browsers, financial and medical accounts, email, Apple ID, Google and whatever else you come up with. Tap or click here to check out a site that helps you generate strong passwords.
  • Change account security questions. Others probably know your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet. In general, it’s unsafe to give honest answers to these personal questions. The solution: create fake responses. Make sure you can remember them!
  • Check your paid accounts, such as phone plans and streaming television and music services. You can check your monthly statements to keep track. Change login credentials so no one else can access these accounts and keep tabs on you. When it comes to your mobile provider, you could save money if splitting up means you no longer need a family plan.
  • Change your Wi-Fi and router passwords. Tap or click here for tips on completing this task.
  • Go back to the top 10 list above and note which devices you use. Change the passwords for all of them. Don’t forget your Google Home and Amazon Alexa apps.
  • Change your device passcodes, even if others don’t have direct access to them. This includes your phone, computer and tablet.

Keep reading

How to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say

Are you a caretaker facing false accusations? Security cameras can prove your innocence

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