Since February 2021, the DeStalk consortium partners have been developing the e-learning course, with the overarching goal to better help victims and prevent online gender-based violence. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, one in ten women have already been subjected to cyber violence from the age of 15. In Europe, seven in ten women who have experienced cyberstalking have also experienced at least one form of physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.
Stalkerware is commercially available software that is used to secretly spy on another person’s private life via a smart device and is often used as part of intimate partner violence. According to Kaspersky’s State of Stalkerware report, in total, 6,459 mobile users were affected by stalkerware in the EU in 2020, with Germany, Italy, France and Spain respectively impacted most prominently. Globally, 53,870 mobile users were affected.
The online course is a milestone on the way to filling a knowledge gap, as online abuse is a known issue, but practitioners and officials need more knowledge to enhance their ability to recognize and stop the use of cyberviolence and stalkerware.
“The new forms of intimate partner violence, such as cyberviolence and stalkerware, need professionals capable of understanding how to tackle them and how to avoid risks while protecting the victims. Moreover, policy makers and other stakeholders are a crucial part of the fight against domestic violence. This practice-oriented and victim-centered training, targeted at professionals and relevant stakeholders, aims at enhance knowledge on the topic of cyberviolence and stalkerware and provides skills on how to tackle it,” explains Berta Vall, Associated Professor, Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sports Sciences, Blanquerna Foundation.
Multilanguage online training
Kaspersky developed the e-learning package in cooperation with Fundación Blanquerna, Una Casa per l’Uomo, Regione del Veneto and WWP EN. The course is taught on Kaspersky’s Automated Security Awareness Platform, one of the company’s educational platforms. Work on the online course has been possible thanks to the support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Program of the European Commission.
“We are honored to have led the work on DeStalk e-learning, with our expert partners from research and education, civil society organizations and governmental authorities to develop content for this important training on cyberviolence and stalkerware. By combining our joint expertise from different disciplines, we have designed a unique online course on our platform. Aimed at increasing capabilities of professionals working in the field of domestic violence and government authorities, the micro-learning approach and automated training paths will enable users to learn at their own pace and acquire the skills needed to support victims of cyberviolence and stalkerware,” comments Tanguy de Coatpont, Managing Director Southern Europe, Kaspersky.
The training is open to representatives from the EU of both institutions and services who address gender-based violence in their everyday work, and is available in 5 languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. One hundred users will have access to the e-learning platform free of charge to complete the programme by August 2022.
“The regional policies in preventing and combating violence against women must be updated and target all new forms of abuse. Raising full awareness and knowledge on the topic and width of cyber violence and stalkerware with specific training for all subjects involved in the network against violence is crucial to improve its effectiveness,” emphasizes Valeria Motterle, P.O. International projects, Regione del Veneto.
Skills acquisition in a short time
The course is self-paced, meaning each student will study at their individual pace, while the educational platform will continuously motivate and engage them. Although it depends on how much time an individual can dedicate to the course, it is estimated that within four weeks, spending between 30 to 90 minutes weekly with studying, it is possible to complete the course.
The e-learning course is structured in 4 modules including lessons on: introduction to gender-based violence and cyberviolence, recognising the most common forms of gender-based cyberviolence, in-depth training on stalkerware, practical guidance on what to do when confronted with cyberviolence and stalkerware according to the specific field of work (public authority, perpetrator programme, victim support service).
“Even though they are aware of the existence of forms of violence that are perpetrated online or through commonly used devices, professionals admit that they do not have specific knowledge and skills on the topic, regarding both the detection and assessment of cyberviolence and the practical work with perpetrators or victims/survivors. This lack of knowledge leads to the issue of low efficacy of prevention and contrasting measures adopted by both types of services,” says Elena Gajotto, Project Manager of Una Casa per l’Uomo.
Practitioners and public officials who would like to take part in the training are required to register their interest via the registration form available on the DeStalk webpage.
For users who suspect they may be affected or are being impacted by stalkerware, Kaspersky has the following recommendations:
· Contact local authorities and service organizations supporting victims of domestic violence – for assistance and safety planning. A list of relevant organizations in several countries can be found on www.stopstalkerware.org.
· Watch the Coalition’s video on stalkerware and how to protect against it on the homepage available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. There is also a dedicated page for victims and survivors on stalkerware detection, removal and prevention.
· Use proven cybersecurity protection, such as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, to run a check on your device and discover if stalkerware has been installed on it. Do not rush to remove stalkerware if found on the device as the abuser may notice. It is very important to consider that the abuser may be a potential safety risk. In some cases, the person may escalate their abusive behaviors in response.
Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialized security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help 240,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at www.kaspersky.com.
About the DeStalk partnership
The DeStalk project is run throughout Europe thanks to the collaboration of an international and interdisciplinary project team, which the European Commission chose to support with its Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program:
· Fundación Blanquerna, research and education organization within the Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sports Sciences from Ramon Llull University, Spain
· Kaspersky, a leading global cybersecurity company
· Regione del Veneto, the local government of Italy’s Veneto Region
· Una Casa per l'Uomo, a civil society organization working with victims and perpetrators in Italy
· WWP European Network, European umbrella association for perpetrator programs