ITHACA, N.Y. - A new clinical model developed by Cornell Tech researchers aims to respond systematically and effectively to the growing array of digital threats against victims of intimate partner violence.

Working with the New York City Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, the researchers created and piloted a questionnaire, a spyware scanning tool and a diagram for assessing clients' digital footprints.

The first-of-its-kind model can help counselors without tech expertise pinpoint online abuse - and protect the safety of abuse victims and their advisers.

Using this strategy, researchers found potential spyware, compromised accounts or exploitable misconfigurations for 23 of the 44 clients they advised.

"Prior to this work, people were reporting that the abusers were very sophisticated hackers, and clients were receiving inconsistent advice," said Diana Freed, Cornell Tech doctoral student in the field of information science and co-lead author of "Clinical Computer Security for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence," presented Aug. 14 at the USENIX Security Symposium in Santa Clara, California.

"Some people were saying, 'Throw your device out.'

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