Saturday, 15 August 2015

Spyware Demo Shows How Spooks Hack Mobile Phones

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Secretive Techniques to Spy Mobile Devices

Generally Intelligence agencies seldom make it public, their secretive techniques for spying on mobile phones but a UK security firm has portrayed to BBC, how a tool which is sold around the world spies and actually functions.

It enables spies to take secret images through the phone’s camera as well as record the conversations with the microphone without the owner being aware of it. The software of Hacking Team had been recently pilfered from the company by hackers and published across the web where almost any type of data on a phone, PC or a tablet could be accessed through the tool which is amazing on how much it can do.

When the source code for the program had been dumped online by the hackers, Joe Greenwood, of cybersecurity firm 4Armed, who had seen it, could not refrain from experimenting it. Though he had to work with the code in order to make it work, it took him a day before he could make it run.

The software comprises of the surveillance console displaying data retrieved from a hacked device together with malware implanted on the target device itself. The cybersecurity firm had been cautious to note that utilising it to spy on someone without their permission would be violating the law.

In-Built Features to Track Bitcoin Payments

Mr Greenwood, on testing the software on his own PC, observed the scope of its potentials. He informed BBC that one could download files, record microphones, webcam images, websites that were visited, check what programs were running as well as intercept Skype calls.

Besides these, the software also had some in-built features to track Bitcoin payments which could be difficult to connect with individuals without extra data on when and how the transaction could have been performed. He also showed a live demonstration of the system on how an infected phone could be made to record audio from the microphone even though the device seemed to be locked and utilise the phone’s camera without the knowledge of the owner.

He informed that photos could actually be taken without them knowing and the camera in the background tends to be running, taking photos every number of seconds. There is also the possibility of listening in on phone calls, access the list of contacts that were stored on the device as well as track what websites the user of the device had visited.

Indication of Message Sent Somewhere -A Red Flag Spike in Network Data Usage

Marc Wickenden, technical director of 4Armed as well as Mr Greenwood had stated that they were shocked by the sleekness of the interface and pointed out that though customers would be paying up £1m for the software and expecting it to be user-friendly especially if it is intended for usage by law enforcers.

As for the tracked user, there are few ways of discovering that they are being watched. According to Mr Greenwood, a red flag, is a sudden spike in the network data usage indicating that information is being sent somewhere in the background and experienced intruders would however, be cautious in minimising this to remain undercover.

Currently spy software of this type is only likely to be arrayed secretly on the phones and computers of those who seem to be key targets for intelligence agency.