How the mobile phone is monitored. An article by detective Pelekasis Nikos in the newspaper “Ta Nea”.
“A search of advertisements on the Internet and in numerous publications will show that the “drin drin affair” was the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of investigation agencies that offer for a small fee the possibility for anyone to stalk anyone they want.”
In the Cybercrime Division, the case of the drin drin company, which offered the possibility for 20 euros a month for companies to monitor their executives or commit industrial c o m p e t i c a t i o n , law firms to monitor opponents and shipowners to know the business plans of their rivals in a “public hearing”, simply highlighted a major gap that exists in the protection of mobile phone owners, especially smartphones.
“If the surveillance program is installed on the mobile phone, the user has two ways to know that he is being monitored,” private researcher Nikos Pelekasis tells NEA. The first is from the detailed bill sent by the mobile phone company, where any double charges should be checked. “The monitoring software alerts the one being monitored whenever the ‘victim’ receives a call and he chooses whether he would like to record it. Doing so, however, charges a message to the bug’s phone. Also, if the victim sends an SMS and the bug wants to receive it too, then the message will be charged twice,” says Nikos Pelekasis.
A second way that can make someone suspicious that their phone is being monitored is the fast battery consumption. With the para-tracking program the bugger has the ability to turn the phone on and even turn it into a microphone unbeknownst to the victim who thinks he has a switched off phone!
The police officers of the Cybercrime Unit had taken out notepads and noted what the 33-year-old administrator of the website drin drin revealed to them and found situations that were more reminiscent of a Hollywood spy movie.
“And yet this is the reality that thousands of Greek citizens are unknowingly experiencing, who have no protection,” a senior officer of the Hellenic Police Force tells NEA.
In one of the applications revealed by the 33-year-old, the surveillance program could even activate the mobile phone camera and send visual footage of what the “victim” of the surveillance was doing directly to the bug.
Somehow the battery life of the phone is reduced and the person being tracked has an early indication that something is wrong.
Already in many critical meetings of large corporations and government agencies, attendees are asked to remove the battery and dead the phone. Otherwise, as senior officers of the National Police say, “even if the phone is switched off, it can still be monitored and recorded.”
The records seized at the company’s headquarters contained 2,500 names of people being monitored. “This number only refers to those monitored by some companies that had requested invoices because they could not justify this line item from their budget. We estimate that the number of people who were under surveillance is more than 10,000,” is the estimate of police officers from the Cybercrime Unit.
The bug is planted on the victim’s device with an SMS
The services of Mr. drin drin were called upon by, among others, large companies listed on the Stock Exchange and engaged in trade, transport and financial services. “Many companies offered their employees free mobile phones, but they wanted to know what they were doing, where they were moving, who they were meeting and what they were saying. Also, many partners were asking for the same program. That is why they had requested the introduction of the monitoring software,” the 33-year-old accused told police officers.
Among his clientele were many who simply wanted to watch their other half when they had doubts about his nocturnal escapades.
In these cases, a husband or lover/mistress would walk by the 33-year-old’s office and ask him to “implant” the software in the brand new smartphone. The 33 year old also had a packing machine, again wrapping the phone in the gelatines which ended up as a beautiful gift in the hands of the victim.
“I was asked to pass the software in cases where parents wanted to monitor the actions and communication of their underage children, families who wanted to have the possibility of continuous monitoring to identify elderly people with health problems, and finally people who asked for the immediate investigation of each case, for their personal use and information,” claimed the 33-year-old from Crete, who opened the office 4 years ago and very soon managed to dominate the field of investigations.
A second way of introducing the software was by sending an SMS containing the bug in code. “It could have been a simple message, but it was made by the 33-year-old to install the software. As soon as the victim opened it, the surveillance began,” one of the cybercrime officers who attended the 33-year-old’s “tutorials” on the 13th floor of the GADA told NEA. Another way was to transfer the program via Bluetooth. This way was very often used by people who watched their relatives. Once installed, the program recorded, if the person ordering it so wished, all calls, messages, MMS, emails and any file exchanged by the person being monitored.
It also activated the geolocation service (GPS) and gave a constant location of where the victim was. The stalker was able to choose which of the files he wanted to record on his computer.
How the mobile phone is monitored
The husband, the lady and the thieves
The surveillance software used by the 33-year-old and many private investigation companies easily removed the restrictions that exist in Greece to protect citizens from eavesdropping. With the existing legal framework, as explained to NEA by officials of the Ministry of Citizen Protection. When a legal phone tapping is needed to monitor a suspect, a prosecutor’s permission is requested, the ADAE is informed, so that the suspect’s phone can be put into a surveillance process by the wiretap of the NIS or the Anti-Terrorist Service. In this way, more than 800 persons suspected of committing criminal acts are currently being monitored.
With the 33-year-old’s software, the safety nets were broken in a very easy way. The monitoring is done through the device and not through the provider! “The software is inserted into the specific device. This means that if the ‘victim’ takes the SIM card out of his phone and inserts it into another mobile phone, the surveillance stops,” a private investigator tells NEA.
But the software remains forever on the first phone and at any time it can be used as a “snitch”. This is how jewel thieves from a family’s home in the southern suburbs were screwed a few months ago. The husband, suspicious of his wife’s nocturnal prowling, had installed pa-tracking software on her mobile phone. The new smart phone impressed the thief who decided to appropriate it. As soon as he inserted his own SIM the bug was activated and the husband went to security, confessed how he tracked down the thief and the wife was impressed by the abilities of the Greek police to find the thief of her jewellery so quickly.
He’s been fanning the concealment!
The 33-year-old’s innovation that impressed the police was a software of his own making, with which he could within 18 seconds “reveal” a number he was calling with the indication “hide”.
Published in the newspaper TA NEA (Stelios Vradelis)
How the mobile phone is monitored . Detective Pelekasis Nikos and Associates.