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iPhone & Blackberry – Spyware to track you – Privacy Tactic to counter Surveillance


What does it do?

The program can secretly turn on a device’s microphone, track its location and monitor e-mails, text messages and voice calls, according to the findings, being published today by the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab. Researchers used newly discovered malicious software samples to further pull back the curtain on the elusive cyber weapon.

“People are walking around with tools for surveillance in their pockets,” says John Scott-Railton, a doctoral student at the University of California Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs who assisted with the research. “These are the tools that can be used to turn on your microphone and turn your phone into a tracking device.”

Systems that can be targeted include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows Mobile, the Apple iPhone’s iOS and BlackBerry and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android, according to the company’s literature. Today’s report says the malware can also infect phones running Symbian, an operating system made by Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), and that it appears the program targeting iOS will run on iPad tablets.


Who makes it?

FinFisher spyware made by U.K.-based Gamma Group can take control of a range of mobile devices, including Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM)’s BlackBerry, an analysis of presumed samples of the software shows.

FinFisher products can secretly monitor computers, intercepting Skype calls, turning on Web cameras and recording keystrokes. They are marketed by Gamma for law enforcement and government use.

“I can confirm that Gamma supplies a piece of mobile intrusion software — FinSpy Mobile,” Gamma International GmbH Managing Director Martin J. Muench said in an Aug. 28 e-mail. “I certainly don’t intend to discuss how or on what platforms it works. I do not wish to inform criminals of how any of our detection systems are used against them.”

In December, anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks published a promotional brochure and video for FinSpy Mobile. The video shows a BlackBerry user receiving a message to click on a link for a fake update — and then making the mistake of doing so.


Czech Command and Control Server

The mobile-infecting samples obtained for the report, which transmit data via the Internet and text message, also provided clues to FinFisher’s deployment.

In one case, a sample was found transmitting to the same Internet address in the Czech Republic that Guarnieri had identified in his study as a likely FinFisher command computer


In conclusion:

Your mobile tracks you in real time.  Police can turn on the microphone and listen into you, or turn on the camera to video you.

TAKE OUT YOUR PHONE BATTERY – it’s as simple as that!

If you disconnect the power, the phone cannot pulse the network.





  1. You might also be interested in looking up ‘CarrierIQ’ – a ‘network diagnotics’ tool for Android handsets (basically a rootkit) that was installed by several vendors prior to sale. It was one example of how rooting a device could actually improve security.


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