For espionage, certain listening devices are used but what could potentially make one vulnerable is one’s own smartphone, which can be penetrated without physical touch and used as a recording device even in the case of secured apps like WhatsApp.
In this latest audio leaks scandal, which has raised serious questions over cyber security, has shook many, including intelligence agencies, which are presently trying to determine how a highly secured Pakistani politician’s house was bugged.
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Routine sweeping of the premises is done regularly, but there isn’t any mechanism to check and clean mobile phones of the prime minister, PM office staff and others. Sources in intelligence agencies explain different ways of bugging but the most dangerous in today’s scenario is through a smartphone.
Through unnoticed penetration, a smartphone, tablet or laptop can be turned into a recording device even if switched off or not internet-connected. Normal phone or mobile calls are never secure, but what is alarming is that protected cellular calls through Apps like WhatsApp can be recorded by infiltrating the targeted smartphone through a file containing hidden listening software which is installed without any notice of the user.
For covert surveillance, transmitters can be placed into any object such as a clock, belt, calculator, ashtray, under the table. These transmitters have features such as remote controlled activation, audio surveillance recorder, encrypted surveillance and data monitoring.
There is a surveillance system known as fixed operation, in which a bugging device is placed into a physical room and kept there, with content being viewed from a remote location. Cell phones can also be hacked into remotely- and this poses a risk for anyone, anywhere in the world.
In addition, a report by Computerworld claims that some new smartphone apps are using your phones, microphone and camera to gather data. A new class of apps have emerged that use the microphone built into your phone as covert listening devices. These apps try to alleviate privacy concerns by saying they only record sound patterns, not actual sounds or conversations. But in the end, the technology is there, and it is being used.
Smartphone users should also be wary when downloading anything from an open WiFi network.
Even when a GSM function is disabled on a smartphone, the in-built camera could potentially still be used as an eavesdropping device. A smartphone can be used to record video and take photos, stealing product information, prototypes etc. As it is virtually impossible to buy a mobile phone device without a camera, this is a threat which should not be ignored.
This content was originally published here.