Our mobile phones know all of our secrets, everything we search, say, and text. Even everywhere we go. So just imagine if your smart phone became a spy phone “they can view all the call logs, all the GPS logs,” says Robert Siciliano, CEO of Boston-based id theftsecurity.com , who says these days a degree in espionage is not required. To electronically stalk someone it takes as little as ten minutes to take control of a phone. It costs as little as fifteen bucks to buy the software, and it's easily found on-line.
Listen to live calls, view photos, read call logs, and dominate other people's cellular phones. You get the picture....
“Selling you spyware these days is coming out and telling you exactly what it's for to monitor your 12 year old daughter to monitor your employees and to monitor your spouse to find out what he or she is doing,” Siciliano says.
“So this text message means he made a call,” says Jennifer, who installed spyware on her husband's phone. Every time he sends or receives a call, text, or email her phone is alerted. She can even secretly conference herself in to any of his calls and listen in from anywhere she has service.
”I just can't believe they have no clue I am listening to this conversation,” Jennifer says.
The software also allows access to a phone's GPS coordinates. Where you are, where you have been, down to the street address. And even more eye-opening, some spyware can actually activate your phone's camera, capturing your every move.
“If the wrong person installs spyware on your phone they can stalk you, they can know where you are and where you are, who you are with and really make your life a living hell,” Siciliano says.
So along with keeping a close eye on your phone, you also need to be careful what links and applications you click on. Spyware doesn't have to be installed by someone you know. You can end up downloading it your self with out even knowing.
Chris Wysopal is the founder of Burlington based software security company Veracode . As mobile technology advances he says professional hackers are moving from computers to phones. “It isn't just thrill seekers trying to spy on people it's really a criminal operation where they can get personal and financial information they can use,” Wysopal says.
It's hard to tell if a phone has been bugged. The signs include sudden drops in battery life, ambient noise in the background during a call, and strange text messages from unfamiliar numbers. “Chances are if there's spyware on your phone you’re not going to know about it,” Siliciano says the best thing to do is trust your instincts. If you think someone is spying, don't trust your phone.
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You may have heard the story about the woman who was stalked for three years by her ex-boyfriend. She could never figure out how he knew everything she was doing. If she talked with someone on the phone he would send a text asking about the conversation, if she went to a restaurant he would call and ask how the food was. It turns out the guy had installed spyware on her mobile phone. The spyware allowed him monitor all her emails, texts and conversations. It also gave him access to the GPS technology in the phone. After switching her number more than a dozen times she realized it was the phone itself that was bugged. When she got a new one the stalking stopped.
More than two hundred companies sell this type of spyware online. The products range from a few bucks to a few hundred bucks depending on the features you want. The most advanced spyware allows someone to activate the camera on the phone. Someone can listen and watch what you are doing by simply logging on to a computer. The more advanced the phone the easier it is to bug because there is more space for the software to run silently in the background.
It is legal for companies to sell this stuff and in some cases legal to install. If you bought a phone for your kid or spouse and your name is on the contract there is nothing to prevent you from installing spyware in most cases. This may be a good tool for parents to monitor kids with phones but unfortunately many times this stuff ends up in the wrong hands.
Obviously this is not to get paranoid about but if you think someone is monitoring you...cell phone spyware could be the way they are doing it.