Breaking up with people has become much more complex in the digital age, with shared logins and apps meaning your ex could be keeping tabs on you long after you’ve broken up.
If you’ve shared devices, it’s entirely possible that an ex could access your email and, from there, your bank accounts by resetting passwords.
If your partner is abusive, they can also use technology to spy on you or even track you, or use your images to make AI porn, warned cybersecurity and privacy expert Laura Kankaala of F-Secure, speaking to DailyMail.com.
Even smart light bulbs can pose a problem, he explained.
Cybersecurity and privacy expert, Laura Kankaala of F-Secure (F-Secure)
Cyberbullying affects millions of Americans; In 2019, three million people were harassed using technology, according to the United States Department of Justice.
The alarming fact that very few people know is that 67 percent of cyberbullying victims know their harasser, according to US government research.
Kankalaa said: “Stalking and leveraging modern technology such as artificial intelligence for stalking can also be a serious threat if the digital divide is not airtight.”
See which devices are watching your accounts
When you’re a couple, it’s very easy to share technology without thinking about it, but this can mean that an ex has access to your email and other private messages.
Kankalaa said: “You’ve probably used your ex’s tablet or laptop at some point, which may have inadvertently saved your passwords or you may have logged in but forgotten to log out.”
‘Before you leave, be sure to check and remove any access the device has. Many apps, such as Gmail, social media platforms, and others, allow you to see which devices are currently logged in with your credentials.
“If you see a device that you don’t own, you can log out remotely from settings.”
Remove dangerous devices
Abusive partners may use devices like Apple Airtags and home security cameras, so it’s important to disconnect from anything dangerous.
This applies even to “smart” home lighting, Kankalaa warned.
Kankalaa said: ‘It is also important to remove shared Apple AirTags or other similar devices used to track the location of items, which could provide an ex-partner with a wealth of information about their whereabouts.
‘If you have shared devices or accounts, revoke your ex’s access immediately. This includes streaming services, location services, virtual assistants, cloud storage and shared devices.
“While useful in many ways, this technology could be misused to track and stalk an ex; that is, connected doorbells and cameras allow you to observe what someone is doing from anywhere in the world, door sensors could reveal when someone leaves the house and the lights Smart bulbs can show movements between rooms.’
It’s very easy to “clone” your voice if a partner has access to your recordings (for example, on a shared social media account).
Cloned voices can be used for anything from deception to bank fraud.
Kankalaa said: “It’s also trivial to clone anyone’s voice: just a minute of sample audio of your voice, obtained from social media, for example, can be used to create a really convincing AI-generated version of your voice.”
‘Illicit use of this technology could be used to send voice messages using your voice for defamation purposes. Unfortunately, modern technology can make the consequences even worse.
‘Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes it possible to create fake and convincing images, videos and audio of anyone, by anyone.
‘Deepfakes can be created with really easy-to-use applications that do not require any technical expertise to use. In the worst cases, they are misused to replace someone’s image, for example with pornographic material.
“There are worrying examples around the world of how fake pornographic images have been used to intimidate, harass or even threaten people.”
Revoke your partner’s access to social media accounts and shared image libraries, Kankalaa advises.
Change passwords you DID NOT share
Most of us will have shared accounts with a partner (for Netflix, for example, or Uber Eats), but the key is to change EVERYTHING, including the ones you didn’t share.
Kankalaa said: “Your partner may know you well enough to guess what your password would be for all your accounts, so better safe than sorry.” It is vital to have strong and unique passwords on all accounts to be protected. Change them periodically and use a password manager to organize them all.
If you are in an abusive relationship, it is very possible that your partner installs software to monitor you.
Abusive partners often use technology to spy on their exes (Shutterstock)
Kankalaa said: ‘This is one of the most important actions after a difficult breakup with a hostile partner and should be the first check. Stalkerware apps can be used to track a person’s location in real time, access call logs, read messages, listen through the device’s microphone, and even access the camera to spy on a person or their surroundings.
‘One of the telltale signs of installing a stalkerware app on an Android device is that it can become very hot due to constant location tracking. For iPhone, it’s best to check the list of active sessions in iCloud to see if any unrecognized devices have access to your phone’s information.
‘To check for stalkerware, check the list of applications on your device. If there are any applications that you don’t recognize, investigate further what they are.