Android app lets you know if your phone is tapped

16 Nov 2010

The creators of an app banned from the Android Market that helps users spy on text messages and tells them if their lover has been cheating have put a new app on the Market that tells users if their phone has been tapped.

A fortnight ago, Google banned the Secret SMS Replicator app developed by DLP Mobile because it is understood to violate Google company policy. The Secret SMS Replicator works by secretly duplicating incoming text messages and forwarding these on to another mobile phone.

The app is invisible so a mobile phone user won’t be aware that his or her text messages are being received and read by someone else. It is understood the app was on Google’s Android Market for 18 hours before the internet giant decided to take it down.

However, because of Android’s open source nature, the app is still easily available at third-party markets and through torrents, leaving Android users vulnerable to covert surveillance.

Now the creators of the Secret SMS Replicator have created a counter measure app called Reveal that allows users to check and see if they are being tapped.

“Reveal’s functionality allows it to run on your phone to check to see if Secret SMS Replicator has been surreptitiously installed, and if so, reveal it to you, so you can make necessary changes, like uninstalling it and dumping your boyfriend,” says lead developer Minhaz Chowdburry, only half joking.

Privacy protection

The development team behind this app is the same that built the original Secret SMS Replicator. “We got a lot of constructive feedback, and wanted concerned people to be able to protect themselves and their privacy,” said DLP Mobile CEO Zak Tanjelof.

Commenting on the irony of the situation Tanjeloff said: “We believe in the marketplace of ideas.

“We really hope by making both products available, we will be able to help users build trust and honest and open relationships,” said Tanjeloff, 24.

In addition, as a result of feedback, DLP Mobile has also re-purposed Secret SMS Replicator and released SMS Nanny, an app that helps parents monitor their children’s text messages, which is now available in the Android Market. Reveal is available in the Android Market for US$2.99.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years