FBI Indicts Pakistani Man for Selling Spyware

In the first case of its kind, a Lahore man has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to advertise and sell a mobile spyware product which investigators say could be used by stalkers and domestic abusers.

In a note on Monday, the FBI claimed that Pakistani Hammad Akbar, 31, was the chief executive of InvoCode, the company which sells StealthGenie online.

The spyware is apparently advertised as “untraceable” and was designed specifically to intercept communications to and from iOS, Android, BlackBerry and other devices.

“This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications,” said FBI assistant director in charge, Andrew McCabe.

“They do this not by breaking into their homes or offices, but by physically installing spyware on unwitting victim’s phones and illegally tracking an individual’s every move.  As technology continues to evolve, the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who use illegal means to monitor and track individuals without their knowledge.”

Specifically, StealthGenie is said to have been designed to secretly record incoming and outgoing calls; allow for real-time call monitoring; enable the attacker to activate the phone to listen to surrounding conversations; and to tap emails, texts, voicemails, address book, calendar, photos and videos.

Akbar and his co-conspirators allegedly aimed the spyware at jealous partners who suspected their other halves of cheating on them.

However, assistant attorney general, Leslie Caldwell, claimed in a statement that such apps “are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life.”

Although selling spyware is a crime in the US, some may argue that certain technology companies are given too easy a ride by the authorities.

Reporters Without Borders annual Enemies of the Internet report, for example, highlights countries, companies and organizations complicit in the surveillance of journalists, human rights activists and others.

It has highlighted US firm Blue Coat as well as UK/German firm Gamma International as selling what is effectively spyware-type technology to enable the authorities in various oppressive states to monitor activists.

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