The next time you have any dealings with police in any state, consider this. Police will want to take your phone off you to investigate what is on it, who you are associating with, and just get a general profile on who you are.
These days your phone carries everything to do with your life; your photos, your emails, documents and in some cases legal documents for court cases. In short, most people’s phones describe their lives.
What I have been noticing over the last year or so is that software is being installed onto phones by government agencies that tracks your location, monitors your communications, and even restricts some kinds of communications. Not only that, these agencies gain remote control of your phone and other devices.
I have been investigating in depth a number of these occurrences. As part of my investigation I approached a corporate IT security company to seek answers to my questions. The conversation progressed from a simple chat about rogue software being installed on phones to track and monitor individuals, to one where the security expert I was talking to realised he had told me far too much and statements I made were followed by long periods of silence as he struggled to find an answer to what I was saying. Fortunately I recorded the call. The following day his boss called me back just to suss me out and make sure I wasn’t going to pass on what I had been told. He also said in not so many words that the company would not be working with me or providing any further information. I guess that will tell you level of information I had obtained. What follows is an outline of what I have discovered and how the conversation progressed. The sections of text in quotation marks are exactly what was said by the security expert, Robert (name changed for privacy reasons).
At the time that I made the call I was working with several parents whom it was clear were being monitored. When we became suspicious in regard to this we laid some baits to confirm our suspicions. A bait was generally a piece of information that was not known to others, or was fabricated for the purpose of discovering who would react to that piece of information. It was spoken over the phone in a two way conversation or sent in email or text message. What we discovered was alarming. It was not CPS who were on the monitoring end of a conversation, it was the NGO’s. So here you have private, not for profit organisations that are working outside of their sphere of influence with something that is clearly a breach of privacy. We became aware of this due to the quick responses by the NGO’s to baits that had been laid, sometimes in a matter of minutes. I will write further on NGO’s and their involvement in a CPS case in future articles, but suffice to say this discovery has contributed to knowing how they are involved and work with CPS to keep kids in care rather than working to restore them.
I approached the security company stating that we had discovered that phones of parents with open cases that are either very high profile or profitable to the state had software installed on their phones to monitor and track them. When the phones are taken to your average phone technician they can see the software but can’t actively determine what it is. It has been given the nick name ‘Ghost Spyware’ by several of them. I said I thought the software may be anti-terrorist spyware due to how it appeared to operate. Robert didn’t disagree, but stated that an analysis would need to be done which may be very simple and cost a couple of thousand dollars, or complex and run into the tens of thousands.
Robert stated that phones are an easy target to obtain information from due to their relative insecurity. He stated that a lot of his work is in the area of big agencies securing these devices because they can potentially expose people’s identities and corporate secrets .
I went on to explain what we had done in setting baits to determine that the phone was being monitored and also other activity that was occurring. Often emails would go missing from email accounts that were accessible by the phone. In some cases this was documented evidence that was required for a child protection case. In one instance in particular the parent had all her devices including phone, iPad and laptop computer monitored. She watched the mouse being controlled remotely, and files being deleted in front of her eyes; files that were crucial to her case.
Robert went on to say that his company was working on “something big” in regard to government monitoring it’s citizens. He said they didn’t know what it was yet but were able to see that something has been set up.
“This is not something your average piece of software can detect. It’s pretty hardcore”, he said.
“It’s funny you mention Child Protection. That’s come up 4 or 5 times in the last couple of months”, he said.
“I really don’t like to presume what is happening”. “I would imagine who ever owns this system will be in a world of pain should anything drastic happen such as a loss of life”.
I explained that we know how the software was installed. When the mother was being investigated by JIRT (Joint Investigative Response Team) her phone was taken off her and returned to her shortly after.
“You are pretty far down the road of investigation then”, Robert stated.
I responded by saying “It was installed by JIRT, using something like bluetooth but it may not have been bluetooth”. This statement was followed by a massive silence for what was about 15 seconds as Robert struggled to find the words to say next.
And this is where the call ended. Robert could not get off the phone fast enough.
Subsequent to this we have discovered that this software is being installed on the phones of most people who are arrested. So the point of installation is definitely if you have involvement with police.