The Tools and Tactics Used in Intimate Partner Surveillance: An Analysis of Online Infidelity Forums

by   Emily Tseng, et al.

Abusers increasingly use spyware apps, account compromise, and social engineering to surveil their intimate partners, causing substantial harms that can culminate in violence. This form of privacy violation, termed intimate partner surveillance (IPS), is a profoundly challenging problem to address due to the physical access and trust present in the relationship between the target and attacker. While previous research has examined IPS from the perspectives of survivors, we present the first measurement study of online forums in which (potential) attackers discuss IPS strategies and techniques. In domains such as cybercrime, child abuse, and human trafficking, studying the online behaviors of perpetrators has led to better threat intelligence and techniques to combat attacks. We aim to provide similar insights in the context of IPS. We identified five online forums containing discussion of monitoring cellphones and other means of surveilling an intimate partner, including three within the context of investigating relationship infidelity. We perform a mixed-methods analysis of these forums, surfacing the tools and tactics that attackers use to perform surveillance. Via qualitative analysis of forum content, we present a taxonomy of IPS strategies used and recommended by attackers, and synthesize lessons for technologists seeking to curb the spread of IPS.


page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4


Discussion Paper: The Threat of Real Time Deepfakes

Generative deep learning models are able to create realistic audio and v...

Voice Mimicry Attacks Assisted by Automatic Speaker Verification

In this work, we simulate a scenario, where a publicly available ASV sys...

Detecting and Characterizing Lateral Phishing at Scale

We present the first large-scale characterization of lateral phishing at...

Re-purposing Perceptual Hashing based Client Side Scanning for Physical Surveillance

Content scanning systems employ perceptual hashing algorithms to scan us...

Can I Take Your Subdomain? Exploring Related-Domain Attacks in the Modern Web

Related-domain attackers control a sibling domain of their target web ap...

A First Look at Zoombombing

Online meeting tools like Zoom and Google Meet have become central to ou...

Emergent Influence Networks in Good-Faith Online Discussions

Town hall-type debates are increasingly moving online, irrevocably trans...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset