Hacking your spouse's mobile phone is a criminal offence
I recently acted in a divorce matter where the husband hacked into his wife's cell phone, email and facebook accounts in an endeavour to obtain information to strengthen his case. Although it is a criminal offense this happens frequently. Actions such as these amount to a criminal offense and is illegal. Whether you use BBM, Whatsup or Mxit, all data can be hacked.
Cell phone hacking does occur in divorce matters, but not as frequently as computer hacking. Hacking is the intent to load viruses or spyware, obtain passwords or personal information, or cause general electronic mayhem. While smartphones can have a computer-like operating system, the majority have different operating systems like Andriod or Symbian. Hackers attempt to find flaws in an operating system, which makes a cell phone or computer vulnerable to attack. Because there are a large number of cell phone operating systems, a flaw in one system may not be the same flaw in another.
Recent figures by the GSM Association group of mobile operators found 18 different spyware applications sold openly on the internet, at prices ranging from $29.99 to $847.
Most of these require the snooper to get hold of the target's phone to install the necessary software and then intercept and monitor communications. Getting the spy software installed on a phone without physically handling it is almost impossible, so if you think you can hack a phone over the internet you can't, because any program that is installed on the phone must be done manually. So if your spouse had your phone in his possession then chances are good that he/she could have installed software on the phone to hack it.
What can be downloaded off the cell phone?
- GPS. Since many cell phones have a GPS chip embedded within the phone, the software can determine your location. This in turn lets the hacker find out places you go, like home or work.
- Contact List. The software can obtain and download all your contacts. In 2005, Paris Hilton's phone was hacked and all her contacts stolen. People on her contact list received prank calls for months afterwards.
- Getting general personal information. Text messages, pictures, video: they are all vulnerable to getting stolen if cell phone hacking happens. This is akin to spyware stealing your passwords on your computer or a hacker seeking out all your private stuff in those folders you thought you had hidden away well.
- Speakerphone or Spycam. The software has the ability hijack your phone in order to use the camera to spy visually and audibly.
- Call Interception. Listen to the actual calls live on the target cell phone
- Environment Listening. Make a spy call to the target cell phone running and listen in to the phone's surroundings.
- SMS Logging. Records both incoming & outgoing SMS and MMS
- SIM Change Notification. Get instant notification via SMS when the target cell phone changes its SIM
- Remote Control. Send secret SMS to the target phone to control all its functions
The hacker can download all the data from a web based programme to a computer, from any location in the world.
Hacking has been entrenched in our law in section 86 (1) of the Electronic Communications Act (ECT), which makes any unlawful access and interception of data a criminal offence. The section also make any attempt to gain unauthorised access a crime Section 86(3) and 86 (4) introduce a new form of crime known as the anti-cracking and hacking law. In terms of this law, the provision and/or selling and/or designing and/or producing of anti-security circumventing technology will be a punishable offence liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
About the Author
Bertus Preller is a Divorce Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times and magazines such as Noseweek, You and Huisgenoot. His clients include artists, celebrities, sports people and high networth individuals. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.