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A software developer has updated an application that turns smartphones into sophisticated espionage tools that secretly zap contacts, calendar items, and geographic locations to servers of an attacker's choice.

For now, Phone Creeper works only on handsets that run Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. But Chetstriker, the creator of the snoop tool and a member of a mobile phone hacking collective known as XDA-Developers, has said a version for Android-based devices is almost finished.

On Friday, he released version 9.5 of Phone Creeper to add FTP features and fix bugs involving GPS.

Phone Creeper is billed as an “espionage suite” that is silently installed by inserting an SD card containing files that are freely available online. It doesn't show up under a phone's installed or running programs, and by default it reinstalls itself if it's removed. It allows snoops to remotely control the device by sending it SMS messages. Available commands, which are silently received and deleted immediately, cause the phone to send call and chat logs (even when deleted), contacts, appointments, and GPS location.

Phone Creep is one of several free apps, including this one, designed to show how easy it is to turn smartphones into remote bugging devices. Indeed, Chetstriker has long maintained that he developed the app “because I could and because it seemed challenging and different and fun.” He doesn't use it to spy on anyone and doesn't condone anyone else doing so, either.

Not everyone is reassured. F-Secure, which provides anti-malware protection for Windows smartphones, recently added detection for Phone Creeper.

“Striker does't seem like a bad guy in our book, but a silently installing espionage suite should be detected by a security suite,” F-Secure's blog explained. “The author's motives aren't as important as what the tool actually does.” ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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