Talking tech since 2003

A post on TheNextWeb points out a new application available for iOS and Android devices that you will never, ever want to encounter: it’s called mSpy, and it’s essentially a “legally” obtained key logging app that’s used to snoop on others who may or may not know that it’s even there.

According to the post, mSpy is advertised as being a useful application for parents or employers who want to monitor a phone or tablet’s activity. The disclaimer says that it’s meant for “a smartphone or mobile device that you own or have proper consent to monitor” and that “you are required to notify users of the device that they are being monitored.” The post also then points out the incongruity of the company’s boast that mSpy is “undetectable and completely invisible for the target phone’s user,” as it enters “stealth mode” when activated.

The post also points out that monitoring an iPhone requires a jail-broken phone, and it isn’t compatible at all with the most recent operating system, iOS 7. And as for Android phones and tablets, monitoring Facebook or Skype activity requires an the device phone to be rooted—roughly the Android equivalent of jail-breaking. But monitoring texts and phone calls doesn’t seem to be held back by any such restrictions.

So what’s all this mean? In short, it’s another threat to your security in the mobile world. Back in August we spoke with Bluebox Security, which explained that recent concerns over pre-installed software like rootkits weren’t warranted. The firm’s advice was simple: don’t download any old app you find.

But while mSpy purports to be meant for legal monitoring of employees and kids, and comes along with a $40 a month subscription plan, it would also seem that there are opportunities for surreptitious installations—ones that can’t be avoided by simply not downloading it. Again, because the app works in the background and is supposedly undetectable to users, there are opportunities here for people to snatch devices while you’re not looking and install this. If you’ve ever had a significant other who just couldn’t find it in themselves to trust you, this is the app of their dreams. This is a creepy application that can wind up on your device because of someone close to you, not because you clicked the wrong link online.

In the end–don’t trust anyone.

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving!

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