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Vulnerabilities / Threats

FlexiSPY: Product or Trojan?

Security vendors warn of new mobile spyware, but developer says its product is legit

It sits on your BlackBerry or other mobile device and tells its users what you're doing. It records your conversations and tracks your email messages. It can even "hear" the sounds around you when you aren't using your mobile device.

Is it a cool product or a malicious Trojan? The answer seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Security vendor F-Secure this week is warning enterprises of a new "threat" posed by the updated release of Vervata's FlexiSPY, a software program that can monitor activity on mobile devices and report it back to the user. Other security vendors, including Symantec and Kaspersky Labs, have issued similar warnings about earlier versions of FlexiSPY.

The security vendors are calling FlexiSPY a Trojan or spyware. But unlike most such tagged "malware," FlexiSPY isn't being distributed by a nameless villain somewhere in a locked basement. It's being marketed as a legitimate product by an established Bangkok company, which positions the technology as a means to track employees, children, or cheating spouses.

"FlexiSPY PRO is our top of the range spyphone for Symbian (also available for Blackberry and Windows Mobile)," says Vervata about its new release. "With PRO, not only do you get all the powerful spyphone SMS, call history, email recording and location tracking features... you also get remote monitoring and SIM change notification.

"With this stunning feature, you can listen in to the phone surroundings from anywhere in the world," Vervata says. "Leave it in meeting rooms to eavesdrop conversations, be alert for a baby crying in her bedroom, or listen to what your spouse is really saying about you. The possibilities are down to your own imagination."

Security companies such as F-Secure say FlexiSPY is a threat, because it could enable an attacker to steal data, remotely control a device, or monitor users' activities without their knowledge. Several security companies say that mobile phones will likely become hackers' next major target. (See Mobile Phones: Hackers' Next Target.)

Some researchers have labeled FlexiSPY as a Trojan, but Vervata says that because FlexiSPY cannot be automatically downloaded without human intervention, it cannot be labeled as such.

"It does NOT self replicate, it does NOT pretend to be something it is not, and it ALWAYS requires conscious human action for installation," the company says.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

  • F-Secure Corp.
  • Vervata Wireless Software Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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