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.”