There’s a shady industry out there of businesses that sell spyware apps that market themselves to jealous partners, domestic abusers and stalkers, keen to spy upon others.
Some market themselves as a way of easily keeping taps on your children, but there’s no doubt that many are used to abuse individual’s privacy and potentially put innocent people in danger.
One example of such spyware is StealthGenie, sold online by a Pakistani company called InvoCode.
Here is their promotional video:
Invocode’s CEO Hammad Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles this last weekend in what has been described by the US Department of Justice as the “first-ever criminal case concerning the advertisement and sale of a mobile device spyware app.”
Leslie Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division, doesn’t mince his words about the scourge of apps like StealthGenie:
“Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, itâ€™s a crime. Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victimâ€™s personal lifeâ€”all without the victimâ€™s knowledge. The Criminal Division is committed to cracking down on those who seek to profit from technology designed and used to commit brazen invasions of individual privacy.”
According to a Department of Justice statement, 31-year-old Akbar and his co-conspirators are alleged to have created the spyware, capable of intercepting communications between mobile phones, including iPhones, Androids, and Blackberrys. The StealthGenie spyware was advertised as being “untraceable” and would probably be undetected by the vast majority of victims.
Not only could StealthGenie record incoming and outgoing voice calls, it could also be activated remotely allowing an unauthorised party to record conversations taking place nearby. In addition, snoops who purchased the software were given the ability to track the user’s location, rifle through their target’s incoming and outgoing emails and text messages, listen to voicemails and access other data on the devices.
Advertising and selling spyware technology is a criminal offence, but more than that – it helps others break the law too by assisting them in illegally tracking and surveilling individuals without their knowledge.
Modern technology means that it is no longer necessary to break into somebody’s home or office to spy upon them – you can do it from your own computer, provided you have managed to gain a few seconds’ physical access to their smartphone in advance.
We will have to wait and see how the case against Akbar and the StealthGenie unfolds, but in the meantime all smartphone users are reminded to be on their guard and ensure that their cellphone is password-locked whenever it is out of sight.
If you’re in the process of breaking up with a partner, or you are in a relationship with someone prone to jealousy, they may find it all too tempting to illegally install an app like StealthGenie onto your mobile phone while your back is turned.
And if you read this article and think “Hey! That’s what I need to keep an eye on X”, please think again. Don’t break the law in your attempt to find out who X talks to, and where they go, when you’re not around.
After all, consider this – if they find out that you spied on them, are they ever likely to trust you again, let alone fall truly, madly, deeply in love with a seedy, snooping lowlife like you?