This one of those legal spyware programs I mentioned recently. Mobile Spy is used to secretly record SMS and calling data on a phone. It already existed for Symbian and Windows Mobile phones – now it’s available for iPhones.
They claim it runs in a stealth mode to make it difficult to detect. It silently records all SMS text messages and information about all calls. It then uploads this information to a private account on the web.
Apparently future versions of this program will also capture GPS information and details of any emails sent or received.
Why is this legal?
I can’t really comment on the legal side, and it would be different in each country. The company that makes it, Retina-X Studios, is selling this product to worried parents or employers to monitor their children/staff.
How is it installed?
Someone has to have physical access to the iPhone to install it. They need to purchase the program (US$99), and it seems the phone needs to be "jailbroken" – a hack that voids the phone’s warranty.
How can you prevent it?
Firstly, don’t lend your iPhone to people or leave it lying around.
I’m not aware of any anti-virus programs for the iPhone that detects this yet but I have my bets on F-Secure, they’re fully aware of what’s happening here. I’ll post an update when something new comes up.