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The Rise of Stalkerware in Long Island, NY Divorce

by | May 9, 2023 | Divorce Long Island, NY

Going through a divorce is hard enough when it’s amicable. If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, or just wants to control you, they might resort to spying on you. If they can get evidence against you, like proof of you engaging in drug use or domestic violence, they can use it to try to get custody of your kids or alimony. In the digital age, exes with malicious intent don’t have to stalk you physically and risk being seen, they can do it online anonymously. A step further than just following you on social media, some people resort to malicious software colloquially as spyware or “stalkerware”.  

Here’s what to know about stalkerware and how to find out if your spouse is using it to spy on you.

What Is Stalkerware?

Stalkerware is a type of malicious software (malware) that’s used to follow someone and track their activity through their smartphone. The software runs undetected in the background and can record a person’s activity on social media, internet browsers, and any other application they have installed on their phone.

Unfortunately, the legality of stalkerware is ambiguous and it can be difficult to hold stalkers who use this type of software criminally responsible. Usually, the installation of stalkerware on someone’s phone by itself isn’t enough to have someone arrested or even to get a protective order against them. It may be necessary for them to commit another more serious offense for the victim to get police protection.

How Is Stalkerware Used in Long Island, NY Divorces?

Since stalkerware tracks everything a person does on their phone, anyone using it will have access to things like text messages, emails, social media profiles, dating apps, bank accounts, and even work applications. If your spouse has stalkerware installed on your phone, this information can be used to suggest:

  • That you’re cheating
  • That you have more money than you say you do
  • That you have mental health problems
  • That you use drugs or alcohol
  • That you’re violent or otherwise a safety risk to your children

If there’s spyware or stalkerware on your devices, your spouse also has access to your pictures, passwords, voice messages, and web searches. Anything that you do on your phone will be mirrored, even if it’s not connected to the internet. Some stalkerware programs can record and store the actions you make offline and upload them to the preset destination once your phone reconnects to a signal.

How To Protect Yourself from Stalkerware

If you’re getting a divorce, it’s a good idea to take a few basic steps to secure your electronics and keep your spouse from spying on you at all. If possible, get a new phone or have your existing phone factory reset. This ensures your spouse has no opportunity to download or install anything on your phone before you, or they, leave the marital home.

If you’re not sure whether or not your spouse has installed stalkerware on your phone, look for these potential indicators that they may have:

  • You’re using double the data you previously did. Because stalkerware apps mirror everything on a phone, the amount of data used usually jumps to double what was used prior to the app being installed.
  • Your battery life suddenly starts to drain. Any app running in the background will drain your battery life much faster than usual. If you suddenly can’t seem to keep your phone charged after telling your spouse you want a divorce, stalkerware may be to blame.
  • Your phone starts acting glitchy. If your phone starts to lag or you notice other strange behavior from the device’s operating system, you should have it checked for malware that may have been secretly installed by your spouse.

Is Your Spouse Spying on You? Get Legal Help Now

If you’re getting a divorce – or even considering one – you should take steps to protect your smartphone from spyware, stalkerware, and other forms of malware that your spouse could potentially install on your phone to track you or monitor your activity.

Don’t let your spouse have access to your phone by leaving it out anywhere or not having password protection on it. If possible, keep your phone with you or even on your person while you’re around your spouse.

Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is an experienced Long Island divorce law firm that can help you navigate the process of dissolving your marriage. Contact our office today for more information by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill out our short online form and we’ll get in touch to schedule your free initial case consultation and case evaluation.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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