Tech police in the capital city of Hanoi have busted a private firm for selling software that allowed a few hundred customers to spy on more than 14,000 private cell phones.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday quoted Le Hong Son, chief of the Hanoi Police Department’s hi-tech crimes division (PC50), as saying that the Viet Hong Technology Company Limited earned nearly VND1 billion (US$47,000) from the illegal activity.
Police say the company started selling its Ptracker software to individuals and businesses in September of last year. But they stopped short of the exact time they busted the case.
Once installed on target cell phones (Android smartphones only), the software provides access to messages, contacts, and voice messages. It also allowed Viet Hong's customers to track and even remotely control target phones, allowing them to record incoming calls or turn the phone into a listening device.
The stolen information was archived on Viet Hong’s servers and accessed by using a paid account to log in to the company’s website.
The software did not show up on the phones' screens and couldn't be uninstalled except when the phone was formatted, Vietnam News Agency reported.
An advanced version could never be removed, even after formatting the device, according to the news agency.
PC50 officers and the inspectors from Hanoi’s Department of Information and Communications found that at the time the company was busted, 670 customers were using its software and 14,140 cell phones had been compromised.
The case has been handed over to the Hanoi police for further investigation.
Vietnam’s existing laws prohibit the creation and installation of malicious software on digital devices for the purposes of collecting personal information or taking control of said devices.
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