Imagine this: You lose your phone in a taxi, a restaurant, a party or even just out in the street. Lucky you, some kind person calls the first friend in your addressbook, and soon you’ve got your phone back. It happens all the time. (It’s happened to me at least a few.) A nervewracking moment, followed by a happy ending — end of story, right?
But what if the phone-finder isn’t a kind stranger? What if the person is an opportunist out to take your money, steal your identity or even just satisfy some inner neurosis by spying on you. In today’s world, this isn’t too hard to believe. More importantly, it isn’t hard to do.
The WhyTelecom blog recently posted a video from WAVY-TV (Virginia) featuring a news report the station aired last year. It shows how frighteningly easy it is to turn a mobile phone into a surveillance tool. The guy in the video downloads software and spends just 10 minutes with the reporter’s handset. Now he’s got remote activation that lets him eavesdrop on calls as well as live conversations (using the built-in speakerphone function), observe text messages and track the owner’s location via GPS.
It didn’t surprise me that the tech is there to support this kind of illicit functionality, but seeing it in action sent shivers up my spine. Phone calls to the bank, keystrokes for various account numbers, directions for friends leading to your address (which, combined with GPS, lets people know when you’re not home) — all of this potentially laid bare to someone with dishonest intentions. The worst part? It can be done without you — the owner — having any idea that it’s going on.
What’s the takeaway here? Never, ever let your phone out of your sight.
To see the video, click here.