Category Archives: Cell Phone Security

Is Your Mobile Phone Bugging You? (Seriously.)

Is your mobile phone acting “funny,” or not as fast as it once was? Have you noticed that someone seems to know more about what’s going on in your life than they should? Do people say that they tried to call you, but your phone was busy (and you weren’t using it)? Does your battery seem to be sucking more juice than usual?

You can mark it down to coincidence, or it may mean that your phone has either been infected with a virus, or there’s a program running on the OS that is “listening” to, and/or, recording your email, text messages, logging your calls, and conversations. Both are different in use and theory, but in both cases they’re a security threat and nuisance. Continue reading

GPS Application Leads Police to Thieves

A recent rash of New Hampshire thefts caused police to investigate and warn the public not to leave valuable items inside vehicles parked in the state’s national park areas–especially at trail heads. U.S. Forest Service agents also cautioned visitors to lock their cars.

A recent investigation was launched after thieves smashed car windows to get into vehicles, stealing electronics and cash.

Unfortunately for the unwitting criminals, police were able to track down them down within hours due to quick action stemming from a victim’s GPS application on his cell phone. Most of these smash-and-grab type cases go unsolved, especially due to the remote locations, time delay between the crime and report, and absence of witnesses to the crime.

In this case, the victim went to the State Trooper barracks and borrowed a police computer to track the location of his Smartphone; the phone was in a nearby community, and appeared to be with someone walking.

State Law Enforcement officers called the community’s police department, who dispatched officer to the area; the officer spotted a group of juveniles outside the residential area. A local Forest Service special agent also assisted, helping police determine four teens as the likely suspects. Police recovered the majority of property and the teens eventually confessed they’d participated in the crime spree, or were guilty of receiving stolen goods.

While the case remains under investigation, police expect charges to be filed shortly. Ah, technology!

Copyright Office Unleashes iPhone; Legalizes Jailbreaking

The U.S. Copyright Office announced that jailbreaking (software modifications that liberate iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker) the iPhone, and basically any Apple O/S, is legal. The decision stems from a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the new ruling rewrites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Continue reading

Bugnets: More Than Backyard Pests

Meetings with friends or clients. Private phone conversations. New business presentations. Financial transactions. Personal/family interactions. All items that we, as citizens of the United States, assume are private interactions, protected, and respected, by others. Continue reading

Hey Smartphone Peeps, Read This!

The Smartphone industry has become as hot, and unavoidable, as social media.  As company and government offices move toward providing smartphone for “indispensable employees,” people who don’t want to be chained to their office 24/7 are finding a new reality.  Moreover, let’s not forget to mention the millions of high school students that need smartphones…
I know, I know; it’s a school requirement.

Increasing use increases risk of phone viruses.  Consumer demand for “the latest and greatest” has ignited competition between manufacturers that are eager to outsell competitors and sate consumer appetites.  Today’s smartphone doesn’t need a ton of features.  There’s an App for that.

Apps, or “Applications” are software programs that run on a smartphones operating system to make the phone, and its owner’s life, simple.  In most cases, this is true.  However, the introduction of the iPhone redefined the smartphone industry: Why buy a Blackberry, with 10,000 buttons on it when you could own a touch-sensitive phone that was sleek, easy to use, and fit nicely in your pocket?  Soon after the iPhone came Google Android and Verizon’s Droid.  Recently the Kin became available; its main selling point is social media integration.  Other “cool” smartphones include Aria, Panther, Symbian, and–of course–Blackberry Bold 9800 (better late than never).

The nuclear smartphone race launched the app race.  All good stuff.  Nevertheless, like all good things, they come to an end, in this case meaning that more malware and spyware applications’ manufacturers that want to steal your intellectual and physical property.  Malware on cell phones isn’t new, but it’s become more prevalent on smartphone platforms.

These “bad guys” are targeting smartphones at higher rates, and, according to mobile security provide Lookout, an average of 9 malware/spyware infections were discovered every hundred Smartphones as of last month (May 2010).  A Dark Reading article on the malware highlights the fact that electronic infections took 15-years to reach their current levels.  Mal- or spyware on smartphones has reached the same level in a couple of months.  (May’s infection rate doubled November’s).

John Herring, founder of Lookout, stated, “We call this the 1999 factor: It feels like about 10 years ago in terms of prevalence of threats.  There was a tipping point between 2000 and 2002 [for PC threats] that was driven by broadband.  The same trends are going to hold true here” (with smartphones).

Veracode, another mobile phone security provider demonstrated why malware is dangerous;  Tyler Shields, senior security researcher with Veracode, developed and released a spyware app that targets Blackberries, steals all contact info, both text and e-mail messages, plus allows hackers to listen in on calls.  Scarier still, the spyware application can track the infected phone using GPS.

Blackberry infections are usually spying programs due to the Blackberry’s early introduction to corporate America.

As smartphones become more user-friendly, it’s important to understand that our phones provide more information than our computers, including location (GPS), automatic payment info, e-mail, text, phone call records, voice mails, text, and a record of numbers called by the phone.

If you need your smartphone scanned for viruses or malware, call U-Spy Store’s corporate headquarters in Chicago at (773) 529-2SPY (2779), or send us an email.

Is Your Cell Phone Safe from Prying Eyes?

It’s a given that your computer’s been exposed to Spyware or Malware, attacks that have hopefully been thwarted by anti-virus software. However, what about your cell phone?

According to police detectives, cell phones are infected with both spy- and mal- ware.  Aware of the danger of computer viruses, most users, for the most part, are not familiar with similar threats that can infect cell phones. Detective Ernest Ward (Jonesboro Police Department) stated that cell phones are “infected with spyware and malware and they [users] don’t even know about it.”

Searching the Internet will reveal numerous websites that offer downloads that will track and record text messages, phone numbers, pictures, and call logs. The general assumption–and manufacturer’s sales information–is that these applications are to be used for practical purposes. Parents tracking their children, or corporations ensuring the proper use of company resources.

However, many such programs can replicate themselves and are difficult to detect to those not familiar with cell phone operating systems. The spyware programs often run “below” areas where users operate their smart phones.

Some of the applications send reports in real-time, displaying information on a parent’s phone as a child  receives the call, allowing the parent to record the number and listen to the call.

Since many smart phones have the same capabilities as laptops, the risk is heightened because phones don’t have in-depth defense programs. Some of the viruses on cell phones can activate micro-phones or cameras, allowing other parties to eavesdrop on conversations or view areas captured by the phone’s camera.

Recently, spying via technology was boosted into the national spotlight when it was reported that a Pennsylvania school district school that provided students from two high schools with free Macbooks was sued in federal court. A theft-tracking program on the laptops, allegedly used to track missing units, was deemed to be invasive because of a feature that activated computer webcams on the laptops.

Users were never informed of the software, and district officials concede that their monitoring of students had gone too far. The original intent of the software was to capture images of the “desktop and whatever is in front of the screen for law enforcement to help track down a missing computer.”