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Security & privacy

App designed to keep families safe is secretly leaking your private info

Kids are experts at getting into trouble, which is why more parents are relying on tech-based solutions to keep an eye on them. A popular option involves the use of tracking apps, which are installed on kids’ phones so you can spy on their activities. But this software also goes by another, more sinister name: stalkerware.

Stalkerware earned its nickname because most users don’t use the apps for their intended purpose. Instead of monitoring children, they install these apps on a spouse or romantic partner’s phone to snoop. Tap or click to read more about stalkerware.

If stalkerware is installed on your phone, discovering it can feel like a total betrayal of trust. But things could always be worse. You could be one of these thousands of stalkerware victims who had their personal data publicly leaked online. Talk about adding insult to injury!

A disgusting violation of privacy on two counts

According to a new investigative report by TechCrunch, thousands of stalkerware victims, including children who were monitored, had their data exposed by an unsecured cloud server with zero password protection. Contacts, text messages, photos and internet histories were left wide open for anyone to see.

KidsGuard, the app that failed to protect its users’ data, was designed for parents to track their children. Coincidentally, the app features no icon, runs silently and takes frequent screenshots of user activity that parents can access.

No, it’s totally not supposed to be for stalking your spouse. Why would you ever think of doing such a thing? Well, if you did, you aren’t alone.

KidsGuard was commonly used to spy on romantic partners and the cloud storage server is what lets the installer keep tabs on their victim’s activity. It’s currently unknown whether the server was intentionally left unprotected, but the entire database was removed after the app’s developer was notified of the issue.

How can I protect myself from this? Is stalkerware on my system?

As far as this specific stalkerware is concerned, someone would need to have physical, in-person access to your device to install the KidsGuard app. Just keep in mind that other forms of stalkerware can be installed on your device remotely, simply by clicking on a malicious link or attachment.

While this app is available for both Android and iOS, the data in this exposed cloud storage was only collected from Android devices. Regardless, it’s still important to check that your data is secure on a regular basis.

Contacting your bank or performing a credit freeze are proactive ways to protect yourself. Tap or click to learn the benefits of a credit freeze.

But for the ultimate peace of mind, Kim recommends protecting your sensitive data with Identity Guard. Get up to 33% off for Kim’s audience only, with plans starting at less than $7 a month at IdentityGuard.com/Kim.

Knowing the signs of stalkerware on your system is another matter altogether. Because these apps can vary in design and function, there is no one-size-fits-all way to stop or remove them.

But knowing even some of the signs and symptoms of stalkerware infection can help you identify these apps and stop them in their tracks. Tap or click here to learn how to find and remove stalkerware from your smartphone.

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