It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women globally have experienced severe domestic violence in their lifetime. For a number of complex reasons, the prevalence of domestic violence is especially high in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Now, the Turkish Ministry of Interior is trying to use modern technology to help women threatened with domestic violence find help before it’s too late. The government ministry office released an app called KADES (Turkish acronym for Emergency Support Hotline for Women), which makes it easy for women to discretely report potential threats to the police.
“This application seeks to ensure women reach our police forces and receive help when under any threat, with just one touch,” explained Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. “In any dangerous situation, women can connect to the system at the touch of a button, which will automatically send details of their location to the police”.
According to government statistics, the app has so far been downloaded over 20,000 times, and more than 30 women have used it to seek help. On average, the police arrived in just 5 minutes. The number is so low because the app automatically determines where the distressed woman is located and makes the information available to the police.
The Turkish Ministry of Interior would like to see initiatives like KADES help wipe out violence against women completely. “Our President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] says ‘abuse and violence on women is the biggest crime inflicted upon humanity’. We will continue our efforts until this shame is completely wiped out of our country,” said the minister.
However, government officials in Turkey are well aware that achieving such a lofty goal is extremely difficult and will require a multi-pronged approach, as well as a lot of time. In October 2021 alone, 18 women were killed across Turkey, and the number of less serious incidents is impossible to calculate because many of them go unreported.
New Variants Of Android Spyware Are Targeting Middle East Users
Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates.
British security software and hardware company Sophos has recently revealed that new variants of Android spyware used by the C-23 group are actively targeting users in the Middle East.
C-23, also known as GnatSpy, FrozenCell, or VAMP, is what cybersecurity professionals refer to as an advanced persistent threat (APT) adversary. Such adversaries are typically well-funded and well-organized, which allows them to quickly evolve their tactics to overcome even the most sophisticated cybersecurity defenses.
The C-23 adversary has been known for targeting individuals in the Middle East since at least 2017, with a particular focus on the Palestinian territories.
The latest variants of its Android spyware are most likely distributed via a download link sent to victims as text messages. The link leads to a malicious app that pretends to install legitimate updates on the victim’s mobile device. When the app is launched for the first time, it requests a number of permissions that let it spy on the victim. It then disguises itself to make removal more difficult.
“The new variants use more, and more varied, disguises than previous versions, hiding behind popular app icons such as Chrome, Google, Google Play, YouTube, or the BOTIM voice-over-IP service” explain Sophos. “If targets click a fraudulent icon, the spyware launches the legitimate version of the app, while maintaining surveillance in the background”.
The information the new spyware can steal includes everything from text messages to the names of installed apps to contacts from all kinds of apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp. The spyware can even dismiss notifications and toggle “Do Not Disturb” settings.
Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates. The company’s own mobile antivirus app, called Sophos Intercept X for Mobile, can detect the new spyware as well as all kinds of other malicious software.