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Mobile spying service leaked sensitive details to the masses

Mobile Spy opened and plugged

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The makers of Mobile Spy like to tout their tool for secretly tracking calls and text messages on smart phones as the perfect way to monitor employees or teens or catch cheating spouses. According to F-Secure, the service was also a way to leak sensitive information to anyone with a web browser.

For $20 per month or $100 for a full year, the service will monitor a single Windows-based smart phone. It's simple. Parents, employers or jilted lovers install the Mobile Spy software on a handset, then see every text message, incoming or outgoing phone number or web site address that passes through it by accessing logs stored on the Mobile Spy website.

But according to F-Secure, up until recently, private information that was being monitored and was supposed to be available only to account holders with a valid password was freely available to anyone using a Mobile Spy demo account. Website URLs were configured to assign a unique message ID, such as 643, to each account. By altering altering the ID to, say, 34841, it was possible to read the text messages and other data belonging to other account holders, F-Secure claims.

"You can put in different account numbers through the URL, and ID numbers are sequential," F-Secure's Jarno Niemela told ZDNet here. "You could pull every message on the service."

F-Secure said Tuesday that the leak was plugged in the last 48 hours.

James Johns, CEO of Retina-X Studios, which markets Mobile Spy, took strong exception to the F-Secure report.

"The data leakage described is not possible with our servers," he wrote in an email to The Reg. "Anyone trying this method would receive a message denying access. Retina-X Studios takes customer privacy very seriously. We have tested all services to verify that this is not an issue.

Johns didn't comment on a screen shot F-Secure included with a blog post that purported to document the leak.

F-Secure had not responded to a request for comment at time of writing.

The reported leak appears similar to one highlighted in July by Security Fix. According to that report, FlexiSPY also leaked customer details to the world through a URL vulnerability that sounds similar to the one F-Secure describes. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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