Surveillance firm sells Apple iPad spyware

Filed Under: Apple, Data loss, Malware, Mobile

Apple iPad
Could someone be spying on the emails you send and the websites you visit on your iPad?

For many the thought that someone could be reading every email you send, secretly logging every call that you make on your mobile phone, or silently tracking your location via GPS would be the stuff of nightmares.

And yet software exists (and is sold completely legitimately online) that does exactly this for those who wish to spy on their workers, or on members of their family.

And now a firm which in the past has made surveillance software to monitor the usage of iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian smartphones has announced a version of its snooping software to spy on iPads.

For just $99.97 a year, Mobile Spy customers can access a website that allows them to view a list of every website visited on an iPad, every contact added to the address book, and every email sent and received.

iPad Mobile Spy

The way that vendors get away with this is by explaining that it is almost certainly an offence to install software onto a phone or computer that monitors or spies upon the owner unless you have authorisation to install it.

So, for instance, it would be okay to spy on your employees phone, computer or iPad activity if they had agreed to such surveillance in their contract. And it would be okay to snoop upon your kids because.. well, they're your kids, and how likely are they to take you to court?

Such software exists in the "grey" area between legitimate and illegitimate software, typically promoted as a way for wives to spy on philandering husbands, or for concerned parents to keep an eye on what their babysitter is up to, or to assist companies in enforcing acceptable use policies, rather than more traditional identity theft - but it's clear that it can be used for a criminal purposes too.

Mobile Spy URL log

Fortunately, Mobile Spy's spyware for iPads only works on jailbroken devices. In other words, not only does whoever want to spy on you need access to your iPad to install the software, your iPad also needs to have been tinkered with to allow you to run software that hasn't been given the stamp of approval by Apple.

Late last year we saw malware which targeted users of jailbroken iPhones. My expectation is that if enough iPad owners jailbreak their gizmos too that some of the hackers at least won't be far behind.

Hat-tip: Krebs on Security

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.