Tools of the Trade

ToolsOfTheTrade_IMAGEWith summer in full swing the garden centres of our little island nation are doing a brisk trade. The dizzying array of items available to assist in the creation of the perfect garden appear to be endless. On my infrequent trips to such establishments I’m often taken aback by the increasingly aggressive range of tools available. You can cut, lop, trim, remove any form of shrubbery that may lurk at the end of your garden, thanks to a range of tools that would not look out of place in the armoury of a roman gladiator.

Of course these tools are sold purely for domestic use, despite their aggressive appearance, but could they be used in anger? Maybe, and I’m in no way advocating their use for anything other than their designed intention, but it does make you wonder!

The very same can be said for software tools. As Apple famously stated during one of their advertising campaigns that there is ‘an app for everything’ and a few simple Google searches and you can find all the perfectly legitimate tools needed to monitor track and spy on your own digital devices. Could these tools be used for more sinister ends, perhaps, but then so could a small hand axe from B&Q, but that doesn’t stop them being sold.

The first tool I stumbled across was ‘Elite Keylogger’. According to their marketing material, it is ‘easy and invisible’. For those of you unaware of what a keylogger does it simply tracks each and every press of a keyboard on a computer and saves that string of data and invisibly emails it to a nominated address. That means every website visited, every password entered, every email written, every instant message chat, all recorded. If that’s not enough it can even take screen shots on a regular basis so what is being displayed on the screen is recorded.

All this functionality available, not from a shady site on the internet, but directly from the manufacturers for less than $100. If you want to track an entire fleet of computers, then they offer an unlimited license too!

And if you wander who is buying this software, well company behind Elite Keylogger state one their website that their customer base includes such names as DIESEL, NBC, Adidas and Nintendo.

Need more than that? How about ‘Cyber Spy’, here you can do keylogging and so much more! See the documents that are being worked on, track the applications being used, grab screen shots, emails, conversations and much, much more. The price, the same sweet spot at under $100.

Ahh, but that’s all desktop and laptop computer stuff isn’t it, nowadays most people are almost physically connected to their smart phones. Never fear the market hears you and for your pleasure and entertainment is ‘iPhone Spy App’ from Spyera. Their pricing model is based on an annual subscription, just under $400 for one phone for one year, but this gives you everything a budding armchair cyber detective may need. Live Call listening?- yep, it’s got that. Keylogging too. Spy on Facetime calls? – yep that’s built in. Location tracking?- of course and the most innovative feature is that the microphone can be remotely enabled turning the phone into a remote listing bug, just like in the movies!

There are many, many more perfectly legitimate tools and software out there to undertake covert monitoring of IT devices. So who would want these tools? Well remember all those detective TV shows and movies from way back? All long trench coats, fedora hats, and hiding in the shadows? These private investigators are being digitally transformed into cyber investigation services. These companies, who have to meet all the tight Home Office licensing regulations associated with the private security industry, are being utilised ever more by companies who have a need to monitor the IT usage of individuals that are suspected of less than professional behavior – these tools and many more are in their standard kit bag.

Are these private investigators hackers, penetration testers or cyber criminals? No they are a new ‘support service’ for the modern age. They will assist in the protection of brand reputation, they will work on cyber investigations, they will also work with the legal profession to obtain evidence. It’s well documented that one of the major causes of cyber crime and data breaches is the insider, the disgruntled employee, or the unfortunate individual who despite training continues to do things ‘their way’, which may be breaching internal policy. These tools and these new investigation services can go some way to mitigating this particular risk.

Is it right that these software tools are available on the open market and being used by this new breed of investigative company? Does it give you an uncomfortable feeling knowing that you are only a quick download away from having that covert functionally at your disposal? Perhaps, but no more than seeing all those garden tools in B&Q, all those pruning saws, hand axes and others that are sold for perfectly legitimate purposes to professionals and responsible individuals alike. It is never envisaged that they will be used for anything more sinister, the same goes for software.

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