Feeds

Mobile Spy ups mobile snooping powers

Big Brother calling

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Mobile Spy, a new application from Retina-X Studios, monitors calls and text messages and reports them back to a central server.

When installed on a Windows Mobile device, Mobile Spy allows parents to keep watch on their child's phone, or enables employers to enforce an acceptable use policy on their staff - though the legality of doing so will depend where in the world you are.

A similar application called FlexiSpy has been around for Symbian handsets for the last year, offering much the same functionality.

FlexiSpy's website even provides endorsements from the recently-divorced, who discovered their partner's infidelity thanks to the software.

"Thanks to FlexiSPY I finally figured out my wife was cheating on me with my brother. I had a bad feeling about this for over a year. After the divorce, my life is so much better now. This Could Be You!"

Makes you want to rush out and buy a copy doesn't it?

Installing either FlexiSpy or Mobile Spy requires physical access to the phone, so the authors claim they can't be classed as Trojan applications. But anti-virus companies disagree.

According to the F-Secure blog: "This application installs itself without any kind of indication as to what it is. And when it is installed on the phone it completely hides itself from the user...So yes, FlexiSpy is indeed a Trojan and we have added the detection to our F-Secure Mobile Anti-Virus so that any user who has a phone that has been infected with this Trojan will get a warning that someone is spying on them."

Ollie Whitehouse, security architect at Symantec, was equally damning of Mobile Spy: "Once Symantec has obtained a sample of this application we would likely add detection in our Windows Mobile anti-virus product. Symantec already detects other applications by Retina-X Studios due to what some would describe as their nefarious nature."

For those interested in hearing what was said, as well as when and to whom it was said, various applications exist for recording calls into MP3 files for later retrieval or automatic uploading, and at least one application can even record what's going on in the room at the time: relaying it over an incoming call from a pre-configured number.

The incidence of mobile phones being infected with viruses, Trojans or worms remains pitifully low, partly because of the low installed base (compared to desktop computers) and partly because the networks are much more secure, so until now the usefulness of mobile phone anti-virus software has been very much open to question.

But, depending on who you are and what you're saying, the chances of someone deliberately installing a spying application of this type are much higher than of catching a chance infection, which might make additional defences worthwhile. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.