Posted: Sep 17, 2009 10:04 AM by Eric Mansfield
Most of us carry one. Now the hand-held technology we all rely on is under attack by a flood of covert, internet software designed to use your cell phone against you.
The cell phone hi-jacking websites, thousands of them, are easy to find and promise the user easy access to track a cheating spouse or anyone else.
Listen live to their calls with complete access to their text messages, photos, and email. Even a GPS to track their every movement without them ever knowing.
And it's cheap...Invading your privacy, using your cell phone.
Heather and Courtney Kuykendall are among the latest victims.
Cell phone hijackers sent daily notes that they knew Heather and Courtney's every movements, even threatening abduction and rape.
But experts say what the Kuykendalls shared on the Today show is happening more often everyday.
Neil Book of Smobile Systems in Columbus leads a 24 hour cyber security team that tracks cell phone attacks worldwide.
He says, "Extremely stealthy and silent so the user never knows they're infected."
Book says most targets are helpless because of overconfidence in their cell phones.
"The cell phones today have the computing power of laptops and computers of just a couple of years ago, but it has voice communication, that's the difference," he adds.
And while Book says much of today's phone spyware looks to steal info for identity theft. It's the stalking spyware that takes it to the next level.
Professor and cell phone expert Priya Narasimhan paid 300 dollars to download cell phone spyware to her phone to show us how it works.
She says, "It's not illegal to buy this. To download it on a phone that you own. Once you install that, it gives you the ability to monitor that phone remotely. You can pretty much get to anything that's happening on that phone, remotely."
She not only heard live cell phone conversations that our producer made, but also got instant alerts of her text messages.
Narashimhan even hijacked our producer's cell phone microphone, listening in undetected to her conversation with a student.
"People are downloading MP3s, downloading ringtones, downloading applications with the assumption that somebody is supervising to make sure they're not malicious in nature, but in reality that's not taking place," says software developer Dan Hoffman.
But as much as we love our cell phones talking anytime, anywhere we're actually part of the problem. That's because technology works against us, specifically bluetooth. We sure love the convenience of it all, but so do the bad guys.
Book says, "If you leave your bluetooth on, your device could be very easily infected. So if somebody goes to a mall, within, everybody within a 90 meter range can be infected with a virus, simply by accepting a bluetooth message that you see in your device."
Book says nearly all of today's cell phone spyware can be traced to China or Russia. And that's for every attack that's stopped. Several more come alive...Hiding in our handsets, waiting patiently to strike.