e-creeping

Call Your Girlfriend: Spy Apps Being Snuck Onto More and More Smartphones

First Snapchat, now this?
How spying works. (Photo: TechBeasts)

How spying works. (Photo: TechBeasts)

Sneaky partners could be putting the NSA to shame with their high-level surveillance skills. According to a recent survey of a cell phone network in the Middle East, some sort of commercially available spying software was detected on hundreds of phones–and the trend is expected to grow.

Bloomberg reports that these aren’t malicious apps accidentally downloaded, like malware, but apps that are readily available in the iTunes or Google Play marketplaces. Apps like iTrack and Spy2Mobile can covertly scan text massages, phone calls and track the whereabouts of the affected phone.

Lacoon Mobile Security, the investigators behind the survey, guesses that the installations were “probably done” by spouses or private investigators. Corporate espionage was also cited at as a reason why the apps were downloaded. CEO Michael Shaulov said the number of phones with the apps are small (just 600), but thanks to popularity of surveillance and the ease-of-access to them, he predicts it will increase.

The creep factor with the apps is real: In July, a New York assemblyman proposed the apps to be pulled from stores, because they can potentially enable stalking and abuse. The apps also prompt the question of legality, with several of them hiding under the “Well, it’s for entertainment purposes” category to skirt questions.

Let’s go back to sending love letters to each other.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com