In Episode 16, MobileCoin’s Lucy Kind interviews Eva Galperin the Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international non-profit digital rights group that promotes online civil liberties. Eva leads EFF’s Threat Lab, where one of her focuses includes eradicating “stalkerware” – spyware used for domestic abuse.
Eva explains that she began working directly with survivors of tech-enabled abuse by helping them lock things down and find out where their information is leaking from. In 2018, she decided that helping people one at a time was not enough and formed a coalition to increase understanding and detection of stalkerware through AV products. They also work with companies such as Google and Apple to detect it when stalkerware apps become available in their stores.
Although stalkerware apps are not allowed in Google or Apple’s app stores, they aren’t always identified and removed. And even if they were, users can still do a web search to find and download the software.
She details just how common tech-enabled abuse has become. “Nearly every person who comes to a shelter or who reaches out to a domestic abuse hotline reports that they have also been a victim of tech-enabled abuse and stalkerware is sort of a small subset of that.”
When Lucy asks what more can be done to reduce tech-enabled abuse, Eva says, “we all have to work together, but there is definitely a lot more that the information security community could be doing.” She goes on, “We really need to change the way we talk about tech-enabled abuse and really name it as abuse.”
Lucy asks Eva when privacy first became important to her, and Eva explains how she came to the United States from the USSR as child and grew up on stories about what it was like to live under authoritarianism and what it’s like not to have privacy. She recalls a cultural understanding from the Soviet Union that, “the only safe place to air your views is inside your apartment at your kitchen table.”
Eva discusses her belief that the biggest upcoming threat to privacy is government and law enforcement’s insistence that they need to back door our end-to-end encrypted communications. Whether you trust these agencies or not, creating back doors only meant to be used by “good guys” only ensures malicious parties will show up and use the weakness that has been built into the system. Eva says that’s why it’s important not to design them that way in the first place.
You can check out Lucy’s entire conversation with Eva Galperin on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Buzzsprout. While you’re listening, don’t forget to subscribe to Privacy is the New Celebrity Podcast on your favorite streaming service.
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