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Spyware use rockets through lockdown as respect for others’ privacy falters

59% of people know their partners phone passcode, and 67% of them would snoop through their partners phone if they were suspicious

A survey commissioned by Certo has shed some light on the attitudes toward spyware, stalking and our online privacy.

Though it has been a growing problem for a number of years, spyware use has surged during lockdown peaks. Between March and June of this year, there was a 51% increase in the use of spying and stalking apps globally, compared to January and February of 2020.

This rise comes on top of a previous 50% increase in cyber-attacks targeting smartphones and other mobile devices in 2019.

Russell Kent-Payne, Director and Co-founder at Certo said: “At Certo, we’ve observed a 46% increase in demand for mobile anti-spying tools during April to June of 2020.”


Is it legal? 

Certo’s research found that of those surveyed, 52% thought that the legality of spying depended on the circumstances, with a further 17% saying that it was never illegal. This means that only 31% of people surveyed consider spying on a mobile phone to be a crime.

While there are certain loopholes that may allow someone to claim that installing spyware is legal, if you are an adult and own your own devices it is unlawful for anyone else to install tracking software on them.


Sharing passcodes 

Certo also found that the majority of people surveyed (59%) knew their partners phone passcode. This is much more common among younger respondents, with 78% of 24-35-year-olds knowing their partners passcode. This declines steadily through the age brackets until over 65 where only 48% know their partners passcode.

Of the 59% who knew their partners passcode, 67% would snoop on their partners phone if they felt it was justified. Of the 59% who knew their partners passcode, only 28% consider spying on a phone illegal.

Women are more likely to look through a phone with 67% saying they would as opposed to 45% of men. There was also an age disparity with 69% of 25-34 year olds admitting that they would look through their partners phone, whereas only 37% of 65 and over would.


Reactions to spying 

The survey revealed that 47% of people would confront their partner if they suspected they were spying on their phone. However, 25% would do nothing at all. There was also an age contrast here, with just 16% of respondents aged between 25 and 34 saying they would do nothing. 39% of over 65s would do nothing. Consistently around 28% would take steps to secure their phone but say nothing.

Russell from Certo went on to say: “When many people think of phone hacking, they imagine a shady individual in a dark basement. However, you are actually far more likely to be hacked by someone you know.”

While admitting that you might look through your partners texts is a far cry from installing spying software it all points to a worrying trend. As more of our lives move online, especially during lockdown, the issue of privacy will remain at the forefront of our minds.