Mobile phone spying is increasing rapidly in South Africa, aided by new applications, computer forensic experts have told Times Live.
In a report entitled “I spy with my little app”, Times Live quotes experts as saying their caseload has doubled over the course of the last six months.
Mobile phone spying or hacking is a contravention of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and provisions of communication-related Information Act (RICA), which comes with a sentence of 10 years in prison or a ZAR2 million (US$199,000) fine.
“The law is there, but the reality is that spyware installations on cellphones are growing rapidly. Today’s smartphones have microphones, location trackers, internet connections and full-blown operating systems,” said Danny Myburgh, managing director of IT forensics for Cyanre computer forensic lab.
Myburgh added: “If one of them has a spyware package installed, then not only is the owner’s personal security compromised, but also that of the organisation to which they belong.”
Times Live reported a woman from Johannesburg had been spied upon by her husband of 17 years using mobile application FlexiSpy, which is designed for users to spy on others, particularly those who are suspicious of their spouse’s loyalty, and costs ZAR1,000 (US$100) on the internet.
The woman in question discovered her husband was using the application when he approached her with incriminating evidence. Through the application, he was able to see her email, SMS, instant message chats and listen to her telephone conversations.
Another example of a spy application is mSpy, which costs between ZAR400 (US$40) and ZAR 3500 (US$348).
“These packages can easily expose sensitive information to outsiders,” said Myburgh with regards to companies spying on each other through spy applications or hacking.