Shortly after placing an order, the spy company sent Motherboard an email with a download link to the malware, an invoice, and a user manual.
The file itself was an. APK, an Android application. Within minutes, I had downloaded the malware, turned off an Android security setting that would allow it to install itself, entered my subscription key, and was ready to collect data. If I was trying to do it quickly—while, say, my target had left their phone on a bar table—I could probably set it all up in seconds. Installing the malware requires physical access to a device. By default, the user interface for the malware is displayed on the phone's home screen like any other app, but this can be hidden by ticking a particular setting.
After that, an attacker just needs to type their subscription code into the phone, and it will pop up again.
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As well as being able to turn the mic on with a specific text message, SMS can also be used to remotely change the malware's settings, or deactivate the spying tech too. Images: Motherboard. I took the malware-loaded phone across Berlin for a touristy day out: through Alexanderplatz, over to Museum Island, to a coffee shop in Friedrichshain, and then back across the city to the dive bar, when the "spy"—a colleague in New York—activated the device's microphone.
Meanwhile, the automatically generated reports included the latitude and longitude of my phone, and a handy link to the location on Google Maps. Phone call logs came with an audio file of the conversation, and it even alerted when the phone was powered down.
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The device did not collect data while it was switched off. A map showing the GPS locations recorded by the malware.
Map created by the author, but the malware reports do include links to automatically generated Google Maps for each GPS record too. SpyPhone Android Rec Pro is far from the only example of consumer spyware.
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Myriad companies creating and reselling this sort of technology exist. TheTruthSpy claims to offer much of the same capability, as well as monitoring of WhatsApp messages, Facebook chats, and internet browsing history. XNSpy promises to continue collecting data on the target when the device is not connected to the internet. And Highster Mobile says users can remotely turn on the phone's camera. Many companies sell malware for iPhones too, but this typically requires the device to be jailbroken as well. Clearly, this is exceptionally powerful malware.
Indeed, as Forbes and security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire found , some of this spyware has apparently been copied by those in the government malware business, and uses much of the same code. But consumer spyware is not marketed to governments. Instead, many of the companies explicitly gear products toward jealous lovers—especially men—who want to monitor their spouses. They all use cell phones. Their cell phone will tell you what they won't. Their cell phone will tell you what they won't," reads the website of FlexiSpy, another company selling spyware.
Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence , pointed to several examples, including one from a website called HelloSpy.
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Another image on the HelloSpy website, online at the time of writing, includes a woman, with her face cut and bruised. Spyware being used to monitor lovers or facilitate domestic violence has a nearly two decade-long history, with plenty of cases involving phone and computer hacking. But many seem to have fallen under the radar. At the turn of the millennium, snoops used programs to keep tabs on people as they used Windows-based machines.
In , Steven Paul Brown allegedly installed a piece of software called eBlaster onto his ex-wife's computer, which would monitor all of her browsing data and email it to Brown. In , a year-old computing student in the UK was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife in a brutal knife attack. He had used a piece of sophisticated software to monitor his wife's computer. A year later, a police officer faced two felony counts after allegedly spying on an ex-girlfriend with a piece of software made by Real Tech Spyware.
The software, delivered to the target in a malicious email attachment, was able to record keystrokes, giving the officer access to the ex-girlfriend's email account. Worry no more. XNSPY is an all-in-one parental and employee monitoring software that will keep you updated on their activities in real-time, all the time! XNSPY is the easiest and safest mobile app to monitor cell phones and tablets. So get to know what your children and employees are talking about and who they are in contact with.
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XNSPY is the cell phone spy app that has been taking care of all your personal and professional digital safety needs. But with XNSPY you can spy on a smartphone to protect your children from varying online risks, including online predating, cyberbullying and online harassment. Have a smartphone contract with your kids and manage screen time on their smartphones and tablets. Lock a cell phone, wipe data, take a screenshot or record voice calls; the possibilities are endless! Add keywords and get instant alerts on activities related to specific contacts and locations.
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The app is ostensibly intended for legal monitoring use, and there are certainly legitimate reasons to install the software. Companies, for instance, could inform their employees that they’re surveilling company phones for security purposes