Saturday, December 02, 2006
With some cellular/mobile phones, it's possible to remotely switch on the microphone, turning the phone into a passive eavesdropping device without the owner's knowledge. While this technique has been speculated about for a number of years in certain security circles, a recent CNET article revealed for the first time that the FBI used this method to "bug" organized crime members. Details on how they did it are a bit murky but likely involves loading special software into the phone. There's at least one commercial program on the market called FlexiSpy that allows you to do this type of monitoring on certain types of phones. Theoretically, any phone that supports the Java programming language could have a custom eavesdropping application installed. Definitely more of a James Bond type of threat to corporate and government types versus humanitarian organizations, but still interesting. Update 12/4/06 - Lauren Weinstein has good information on how to tell if your cell phone is bugged.