MTechnology is now providing its mSpy surveillance software – designed to stealthily track mobile phone activity – pre-installed on smartphones.
The revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA ) was accessing private data on the basis of secret agreements with IT giants such as Google caused quite a stir. Now it has become feasible for every individual person or organisation to spy on the mobile phone activity of people they know. The initial aim of London-based startup MTechnology in creating its surveillance software was ostensibly to enable parents to monitor their children’s mobile phone activity remotely from their own smartphone. Now it appears that the mSpy solution is being more broadly used for other purposes, such as by firms wishing to keep tabs on employees through their company phone. Up to now the software had to be downloaded and installed on the ‘target’ phone, but MTechnology has just launched a pre-installed version for a range of smartphones. In contrast to other similar products on the market, people who have mSpy loaded on their phone may not be aware of the fact, as it can be pre-installed without their knowledge. The company insists that the app is designed for legitimate surveillance – maintaining security for instance. In order to disclaim any liability, MTechnology stresses that those whose mobile phone is being monitored must be informed. These days however, this type of technology could easily be used for malicious purposes.
Surveillance technology integrated into a smartphone
The mSpy technology aggregates the surveillance activity in a cloud-based, password-protected control panel, from which the user can send remote commands, including blocking access to certain programs, websites and apps, and can also restrict incoming calls or shut down and lock the phone. Now that themSpy monitoring software can be pre-installed on HTC One, Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s smartphones, the user no longer has to worry about smartphone compatibility with the software or obtaining physical access to the target phone. Smartphones with pre-installed mSpy can be purchased via the company’s website. The mSpy software-plus-smartphone bundle includes a one-year subscription to the premium mSpy software, which is priced at $200. The technology can capture a range of mobile data, including voice calls, emails, SMS, keystrokes, use of Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, chats, location and more. In order to avoid legal repercussions relating to invasion of privacy, MTechnology stipulates in its conditions that mSpy services must not be used for unauthorized surveillance and that users are required to notify people who are being monitored.
Threats to privacy
Although mSpy was originally created to aid parental control, the company describes its system as a tool to listen in and collect evidence about a ‘target’ person – a “cheating spouse” or employee who is “up to something” for example. The company also highlights the fact that their software is 100% undetectable, which should not be necessary if, as the company requests, every person being monitored is informed of the fact. Latest estimates indicate that the company has around 1.2 million customers, 5O% of whom use the service to spy on people, and 75% of whom are men. Meanwhile the company has shown strong growth, with an increase of 400% in turnover last year, and according to MTechnology founder, Andrei Shimanovich, has refused a number of offers from venture capital firms.All in all, however, it is rather worrying to see just how easy it has become to track people’s online activities and that this kind of spying can be perpetrated by those close to you. And while we may admire such technological feats, a company invading the privacy of its employees on a daily basis constitutes a real threat.