Cell Phone Spying Heats Up

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Sunday, Jun 7, 2009  |  Updated 8:49 AM PDT
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Cell Phone Spying Heats Up

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Better watch what you say.

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Can you hear me now? No, that's the point.

A new generation of cheap, user-friendly programs have made tapping your lover or boss' phone calls effortless, according to Newsweek

More than 200 companies now sell programs that activate microphones inside handsets, even when a person is not using their cell phone. All it takes is a minute to download malicious code when your target isn't looking, with the hack leaving no record of itself on the phone or your bill. The programs cost between $50 and $300, and smartphones like the iPhone or Blackberry are especially vulnerable, according to the magazine.

The only way to know for sure that your phone isn't functioning as a recording device is to remove its battery, security experts say.      

In the past, the Feds used the technology to tap cell phones of mafia figures and other suspected criminals.

But the consumer market for snooping on loved ones and co-workers has recently exploded, security consultants told Newsweek. The trend has really taken off in Europe, with an estimated five percent of phones in Greece, Italy, Romania or Spain corrupted, according to the magazine. 

In the U.S., James Atkinson, a consultant with Granite Island Group, estimates that three percent of phones are compromised. 

Makes you nostalgic for pagers, doesn't it?

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