Online stalking appears to be as much a part of modern relationships as lovingly sharing a single spoon and dessert in a dimly lit restaurant or arguing over who should put out the bins.
That's just one of the conclusions from antivirus merchant Norton's latest look at online trends which found that nearly one in 10 people in the US admit to using stalkerware or creepware to keep tabs on a partner.
What's more, the threat of cyber snooping works both ways, with those involved in relationships increasingly resigned to the fact that their significant other might be stalking them – either now or in the future.
In the US, men are three times as likely as women to use spyware to monitor their current partner or an ex.
And these findings aren't just limited to the US. Globally, a third of people in a relationship have admitted to some kind of cyberstalking, according to the survey.
Perhaps the most worrying finding of all from the US was that one-third of those quizzed (aged 18-39) believe it is "harmless to stalk a current or former partner online."
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Kevin Roundy, technical director and stalkerware specialist with Norton Labs, reckons that cyberstalking can "take on many forms" but the "common denominator is that it is unwanted, invasive, and obsessive."
"When online creeping manifests into a compulsive pattern or evolves to use technology and tactics to discreetly track activity on someone's personal device or harass them online, it becomes a serious issue of cyber stalking," he said.
Elsewhere, Norton's 2021 Cyber Safety Insights Report – covering more than 10,000 people in 10 countries – found that 15 million Brits had experienced some kind of cybercrime over the last year, amounting to a financial hit of £2.7bn.
It also found that more than half had tried to bolster their online security including beefing up their passwords, while a third of those surveyed said they had limited the information they shared on social media.
You can read the full report here. ®