A woman's stalker compromised her car's app, giving him the ability to track and immobilize it

An Australian woman's creepy, violent ex-boyfriend hacked her phone using stalkerware, then used that, along with her car's VIN number, to hack the remote control app for her car (possibly Landrover's Incontrol app), which allowed him to track her location, stop and start her car, and adjust the car's temperature.

It's a great leap forward in spousal abuse, leapfrogging the analog days in which abusive partners had to be content with using odometer counts to track how far their victims were traveling. Now, with in-car apps — no better secured than other apps — abusive partners and ex-partners can follow them around in realtime and even immobilize their vehicles.

Stalkerware is now a factor in the majority of spousal abuse cases; since stalkerware compromises mobile devices, and since these devices can be used to control a wide range of other devices (vehicles, thermostats, medical implants, door locks, etc), an abuser can leverage their stalkerware infections to turn their victims' lives into digital Kafka novels.

She didn't know it then, she said in court, but that mid-evening break-in was far from the first time he had stalked her — he'd been doing it for months, in real time, authorities said. The man, whom she dated for six months, allegedly weaponized simple technology and smartphone apps that allowed him to remotely stop and start her car, control the vehicle's windows and track her constantly.

"I am still trying to come to terms with the scope of violation and trauma I have experienced," she said.

The account of these actions, which took place in the Australian state of Tasmania, was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC did not name the victim or the accused, but the case highlights a troubling trend that domestic violence advocates have warned about for more than a decade: As surveillance and tracking technology becomes more advanced and ubiquitous, stalking and other forms of intimate partner violence can become more difficult to fight.

A woman's stalker used an app that allowed him to stop, start and track her car [Reis Thebault/Washington Post]

Man pleads guilty to stalking and controlling ex-girlfriend's car with his computer [Edith Bevin/ABC]

(Image: Land Rover MENA, Cryteria, CC BY, modified)