Sun, Mar 08, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Malicious software enables cellphone surveillance: CIB

SOMEONE WATCHINGOfficers said the spyware can be sent by SMS text, allowing outsiders to hear conversations and monitor text messages

STAFF WRITER

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Friday took into custody a manager of a company that sold illegal software allowing those interested in obtaining private information to send unidentified SMS text messages to infect cellphones.

Once a phone has been infected, the sender could listen in on private conversations and view the recipient’s text messages, police said, adding that people with cellphones using the Symbian 60 operating system were at the greatest risk of becoming infected.

VIOLATING PRIVACY

Members of the National Communications Commission (NCC) and other law enforcement agencies on Friday searched the company after receiving information from the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office, and discovered the illegal software along with chips.

A manager by the surname Koo (古) was taken into custody on charges of breaking the Communications Act (通訊傳播法) and violating privacy.

The CIB said that bugs in the Symbian operating system were exploited by the software, which was first invented in China in 2007, replacing more traditional methods of phone tapping where a chip had to be physically inserted into a phone.

RINGLESS CONNECTION

Once a phone had been infected via the text message, those interested in gaining personal information could call the cellphone using a special SIM card, the police said.

The target phone, however, would not ring when called with such a SIM card and all conversations made on it could be secretly heard by the original sender.

Messages sent to an infected phone would also be relayed back to the original sender of the software.

The CIB said this software would mostly be used by private investigation agencies to extract information on people having extramarital affairs, but the software had also been used to obtain business secrets.

CHECK PHONE BILLS

Police said that certain models of Nokia, LG and Samsung phones now use the Symbian 60 operating system and that users of such cellphones could determine whether they had been infected by the virus by reviewing their cellphone bills and looking at whether messages had been sent to any unidentified numbers.

Police advised cellphone users to always keep their cellphones with them, have passwords for the phone and check that their contact lists do not contain any unknown individuals.

Cellphone users can download the latest software updates to clear their phones of the spy software, police said.

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