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   Inside Out - South: Friday January 12, 2007

The spy in your home

Mobile display panel
Who's spying on your mobile phone?

Virtually everyone owns a mobile phone, but few of us realise that this innocent device can be turned into a hidden spy inside our own homes.

Inside Out shows how easy it is to turn your phone into a bugging device.

The Internet is full of adverts offering to turn some mobile phones into sophisticated bugging devices.

The spyware is being marketed to suspicious husbands and wives but it’s an even more worrying tool in the hands of a stalker.

Lawyers who specialise in stalking and harassment cases are worried because buying this bugging software is perfectly legal.

Spying on you?

So we asked TV presenter Dani Sinha to take part in an experiment and allow our camera to film her on her day off.

All she knew was that we were making a film about stalking.

Spyphone software can be installed on some mobile phones in well under a minute.

Phone user
How safe are you from mobile phone snooping?

The spyphone software we put on Dani's mobile constantly sends us secret text messages with information that could be used to track Dani wherever goes.

After breakfast, Dani used her phone to text a friend and arrange to meet.

But immediately, the spyphone software sent us an exact copy of Dani's text message without her knowing.

All day, whenever Dani sent or received a text message, the spyphone software sent us a copy straight away.

But no trace of all this extra texting was ever left on Dani's phone - there was nothing to make her suspicious.

Monitoring phone calls

But although it's legal to buy and own spyphone software, the companies that sell it are keen to keep one fact private - intercepting text messages is against the law

But the software is so well hidden, the crime is almost impossible to detect… and it has another highly intrusive feature.

Dani text
Text alert - Dani's phone messages were easily tracked

Whenever Dani used her phone, we were sent the phone numbers of every one of her incoming and outgoing calls.

We asked Dani to say something in the privacy of her bedroom. She had no idea that her phone was secretly transmitting her every word.

It's impossible to tell if spyphone software is on your phone.

Worse still, the person who put it there only has to send a simple text message and the software will self-destruct - it's as if it had never existed.

As former Scotland Yard detective and stalking expert, Hamish Brown MBE, told Inside Out:

"This software is simply a 'stalkers’ charter' and clearly the law needs to be changed."

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Dani Sinha's bugging story

Dani Sinha
Dani Sinha - bugged without her knowledge

BBC news reader Dani Sinha tells her side of the mobile phone bugging story.

She was the victim of a high-tech stalker.

And the man who spied on her was one of her colleagues.

Phone experiment

"It all began when a strange Scottish Producer from Inside Out asked if I’d be willing to take part in "an experiment".

"I really had no idea what I was getting involved in.

"I felt a little nervous as I couldn’t help but notice that this new Producer already had a picture of me as the screen-saver on his phone.

"To be honest, that made me a bit uncomfortable.

"But, ever the professional, I agreed to help out."

New mobile

Anti-bugging advice

Q. What mobile phones are vulnerable to spyware?

A. The spyware that Inside Out used to stalk BBC presenter Dani Sinha is designed to work on mobile phones that use the Symbian operating system.

Q. What’s the legal position?

A. Whilst it is legal to sell, buy and own spyware software, it is a criminal offence to intercept someone’s texts or phone calls. It’s punishable by up to two years in prison.

Q. How can I tell if my mobile might be bugged?

A. It is impossible to see spyware software on your mobile. However, because the spyware sends out secret text messages to the person spying on you, you should become suspicious if your bills for text messages are much greater than the number of texts you know you’ve actually sent.

Q Any tips to avoid being bugged?

A. Never leave your mobile phone unattended. For a start, it’s likely to get stolen! But, more importantly, never accept a Bluetooth message and install a program on your phone unless you know exactly what it is and who it’s from.

Q. What should I do if I think someone is bugging my phone?

A. The answer’s simple – go to the Police! Bugging your phone is a crime!

"A few days later, my new Producer friend said he had a present for me – a lovely new mobile phone.

"It was his way of saying thanks for agreeing to help him.

"Oh dear, perhaps I’d misjudged the man from north of the border? I felt a tinge of guilt.

"He then asked if a cameraman could follow me on one of my days off.

"I didn’t have to do anything special – just go about all my normal business.

"This "experiment" was going to be easy and I’d just pocketed a brand new £200 phone!

"When my day off arrived, the cameraman duly turned up and I decided to take it easy.

"After reading the morning papers, I lay about on my sofa texting and phoning my friends and arranging to go out for a drink. And I have to say, my new mobile worked like a treat.

"Towards the end of the day, the Producer turned up and said everything was going well and the cameraman could leave.

"Whatever he was up to, it appeared to be over.

"However, he just had one last favour to ask - when I went to bed, he wondered if I could say something out loud before going to sleep.

"OK, that sounded a bit weird but at least the "experiment" was over."

On being bugged...

"I simply can’t describe how I felt the next day when the Producer turned up on my doorstep and explained what the "experiment" had all been about.

"My new mobile phone had invisible spyware on it. And, as a result, the Producer had copies of every text that I’d sent on my day off and records of every one of my incoming and outgoing calls.

"But what frightened me the most was the fact that the spyware on my new mobile had turned it into a bugging device."

"As a woman, I’m shocked that this type of software can be bought and sold on the Internet. I’ll certainly never let my mobile phone out of my sight."
Dani Sinha

"The Producer had a recording of every word that I’d said when I was alone in my bedroom.

"At this point, he said that I didn’t have to take part in his programme if I didn’t want to.

"But although I was shocked, I was even more determined that what had happened to me wouldn’t happen to any other woman.

"So I have one piece of advice to give: never let your mobile phone out of your sight and NEVER accept a new phone from a total stranger..."

Article by Dani Sinha

 



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