FTC bans the first company for stalkerware – Spyfone surveillance app

The app was able to spy on texts, calls, location, social media habits without users' consent

Tracker app exposed having spying featuresFTC aims to ban any surveillance technology companies

Major news came on Wednesday as The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the ban on a stalkerware app company responsible for making the SpyFone app, due to concerns that it stealthily collected and shared data on people's physical movements, phone use, and online activities. FTC seeks to stop these technologies that expose peoples' real-time activities to hackers and malicious actors.

It is speculated that later this information was used by stalkers and domestic abusers to monitor potential victims.[1] According to FTC, SpyFone has helped stalkers steal private information as the app was hidden from device owners but was fully exposed to hackers who exploited the security flaws.

As security should always come first and foremost, FTC ordered SpyFone to delete the illegally harvested information. The company has to reach out to potential victims and notify them about the secretly installed apps on their phones.[2] However, so far there is no immediate response from the company to address the situation.

The unique decision could set new standards for stalkerware companies

This situation reminds that surveillance businesses could cause a lot of danger to people's safety, security, and well-being. However, this is the first time FTC has ever banned a stalkerware company, and this decision could be the first of many due to the rising threats and US focus on bettering cybersecurity.[3]

FTC states that agency has been too easy and overlooked some companies before. Stalkerware could be described as useful software made available directly to individuals, that enables a remote user to monitor the activities on another user's device without consent and without explicit, persistent notification.[4]

It could be used in many different scenarios and instances to remotely monitor, eavesdrop on phone calls, SMS messaging, Voice over IP (VoIP) applications, GPS/location data, messaging and social media apps, and to steal images and video from an infected device.

Some experts state that in recent years, the problem of stalkerware has been on the rise all around the world. It is used to intimidate, spy on, or abuse someone and sometimes goes beyond just mobile apps. Some believe that even Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like Bluetooth or trackers, could be considered as a form of stalkerware.

SpyFone had significant security problems that developers failed to acknowledge

Apparently, SpyFone had a long list of security problems and flaws and took no action to diminish them. FTC calls out the company and says that it lacks any form of basic security practices. The company failed to implement data protection and left personal information stored unencrypted. Now they show no concern and fail to acknowledge the problem.

SpyFone works after installing its Phone Tracker software on the phone. After that, a person could view such information as GPS location data on a plotted map which is updated every 30 minutes, contacts on the phone, installed apps. The app could also track photos, emails, internet browsing histories.[5]

All information is stored and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from an established account. As SpyFone advertised itself as the World's Leading Spy Phone App, it is safe to say that recent news not only will change companies paths moving forward but will probably impact the stalkerware app's future overall.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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