Spying Software Development in Google Android

Bachelor Thesis, 2011

50 Pages




2.1 Mobile Spying Software
2.2 Antispy Software

3.1 Google Android
3.2 Developing in Android Environment

4.1 Software Requirement Specifications
4.1.1 Product
4.1.2 Hardware and Software Requirements
4.1.3 Scenarios
4.2 Implementing an Android Location Application
4.3 Testing and Signing

5.1 Benefits
5.2 Drawbacks
5.3 Future Development



1 Introduction

In today's world the use of mobile phones has become a common custom and this has resulted in a great demand of a mobile phone applications. Among the millions of mobile phone applications one is spying software. Spying software is software mainly developed to track the location of mobile phone, reading Short Message Service (SMS), Email, and Call Logs secretly and making a spy call. The existence of spying software is controversial. First, there are millions of phone users who are concerned about their privacy. On the other hand there are millions who use spying software application for good or bad reasons. Second, there are many companies who develop such applications, while there are others who develop the security against such applications.

The purpose of this project is to study the concept behind developing spying software for a mobile phone. The goal of this project is to develop a location tracker application for a Google Android phone. However, the tracker application should take into consideration Google Android mobile phones equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) or those which do not have it or those who have it deactivated. In the absence of a GPS for any reason, the use of Cell Identification (Cell-ID) will come into use.

The scope of this project is limited to tracking the location of Google Android phones. One reason is that adding other features such as a call interceptor or SMS coping would make the application suspicious. Another reason is that Google does not support the development of spying software because Google wants to keep the privacy of Google Android phone users.

2 Spying Software Market

2.1 Mobile Spying Software

Mobile spying software is software that can be installed on a target phone for a number of purposes. Services provided by such software based on a phone call include Secretly Record Calls and Room Monitoring. Secretly Record Calls records all calls made from or to specific numbers on the mobile phone. The secretly recorded calls are then uploaded to an online account. Room Monitoring (Spy Call) remotely records all conversations and sounds within a certain proximity of the target's mobile phone. This is normally achieved by activating the auto-answer setting of the target's mobile phone, which will then trigger the recording to start. Once complete, the recording will be uploaded to an online account. [1; 2]

Other services of such software which are monitored by the server of the spying software's owner include GPS Tracking, Secretly Read Text Messages, Call History, Browser History Bookmarks, Contact Details, and Secretly Retrieve Pictures &Videos. GPS Tracking records GPS coordinates of the target's cell, and uploads the data to an online account. Secretly Read Text Messages secretly reads all text messages that are sent and received from the target's mobile phone. Call History records all incoming and outgoing call data and uploads it to an online account. Browser History views the history of the phone's web browser. Bookmarks views all the web bookmarks stored. Contact Details views contact details that are stored on the phone. Secretly Retrieve Pictures &Videos secretly retrieves and views photos and videos that are on the target's mobile phone. [1; 2]

Furthermore, there are services such as SIM Change Notification and Location Information which are based on the SMS service and phone state change. SIM Change Notification sends an SMS that contains the details of the new SIM card including the new number of the target's mobile phone to the specified number. Location Information obtains the current location of the target's mobile phone. This is done by sending secretly a text message to the target's phone. [1; 3]

The features mentioned above are found almost in all mobile spying software. Different venders have different policies about how to use their software. [1; 2]

Mobile spying software as a term is a general name given for all spying software developed for different phone models. Different models mean mobile phone devices running different mobile phone Operating Systems (OSes). The most commonly used mobile spying software are discussed in the following.

Flexiyspy is spying software mainly developed for Symbian, Blackberry, and Windows mobile OSes. It has different versions: Pro-X, Pro, Light, Bug, Record, and Shield. The main features and summarized in table 1. [3]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1. FlexiySpy different versions and their features. [3]

This product supports a number of OSes. The supported OSes by the different FlexiySpy versions are summarized in table 2. [3]

Table 2. FlexiySpy different versions and supported OSes. [3]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

FlexiySpy also provides web service for customers. The web services of FlexiySpy have the following important features:

- The web account is protected using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.
- Using the web account a customer can view all the location, SMS, email and phone activity in an easy format.
- A customer can carry out searches for key words in email or SMS, phone numbers, contact names over selectable periods in time.
- A customer can generate reports to download in PDF, CSV or RTF format for evidence or backup. [3]

Mobile spy is spying software that also has a number features but while using this software the target phone data will be recorded and uploaded on a web server. Many of the services of this software are monitored by the company's server. In other words, every event of the target phone will be uploaded to the company's server database. The services include Call Log, SMS Log, Contacts, E-Mail Log, Calendar Events, URL Log and Photo & Video Log. Call Log means that each incoming and outgoing number is logged along with duration and time stamp. SMS Log means that every text message is logged. The logging will have text data even if the phone's logs are deleted. In Contacts every contact on the phone is logged. E-Mail Log records all inbound and outbound email activity from the primary email account. Calendar Events logs every calendar event in which date, time, and locations are recorded. URL Log logs all URL website addresses visited using the phone's browser. Photo and Video Log records all photos and videos taken by the phone. [1]

Other features such as GPS Locations and Cell ID Locations are based on the same principle. The difference is they are used to trace the location of the target phone. In GPS Locations Log GPS positions are uploaded every 30 minutes with a link to a map. In Cell ID Locations ID information on all cell towers that the device enters is recorded. [1]

In order to access all recorded activities the customer should log into an online account created at the purchasing time. This software is mainly developed for Symbian, Blackberry, Android, Widows, and iPhone mobile OSes. [1]

Neo call provides also unsusceptible mobile spying with a number of features as well. Many of Neo call software services are based on the SMS service to the PreDefinedNumber (PDN). These includes Multi Master control number, Status Report by SMS, Remote Controlling and Configuration by SMS, International and Country locked software version, Delivery by Download/SMS/Email/Memory card, Password Protected Secret commands, Reboot (phone / software) remotely by SMS, and Incoming/ outcoming SMS Forwarding. [4]

With the Multi Master Control Number a customer can set up a PDN and use it to control one or more Neo call devices. Status Report by SMS means that the customer can get real-time status directly to the PDN with an easy command request. Remote Controlling and Configuration by SMS the customer can use NeoCall all over the world if not bought country-locked version. Delivery by

Download/SMS/Email/Memory card the customer can get the file directly from a web link sent using an SMS, email or by a memory card with a setup file. Password Protected Secret Commands means that the customer can send commands by SMS with a specific password. Reboot (phone / software) Remotely by SMS with this the customer can reboot both the phone and software after changing setup by sending specific SMS. Incoming/Outcoming SMS Forwarding means that the customer can receive every SMS sent or received to the PDN in real-time. [4]

Other services are based on the SMS service, phone state change and phone calls. These include Call List by SMS, Sim Change and Power-On Notification, Delivery SMS and Call List by Bluetooth/Email, Environment Listening, and Call Intercept (Listen conversation). Call List by SMS means that the customer can get all missed/sent/incoming call list by SMS. With the Sim Change and Power-On Notification the customer can get informed when a new SIM is inserted on the target phone. Delivery SMS and Call List by Bluetooth/Email means that the customer can receive SMS contents or Log directly to the mailbox. Environment Listening means that after making a spy call the customer can here the surrounding environment. Call Intercept (Listen conversation) with this the customer can hear the conversation between two people after calling target phone with a hidden conference call. [4]

Finally, location-based services such as Cell Base Location and GPS Information are provided by this software. Cell Base Location means that data about the cell where the target phone is connected to can be retrieved and this helps to get the geo location of the target. GPS Information with this target position can be retrieved using satellite data (i.e. Longitude and Latitude) and a high precision map can be obtained. [4]

Neocall has different versions. The versions are different since not all have similar features. These are Basic, standard, Pro and Full package while Full package as the name implies having all features described above. Further Neocall has a special version called Windows mobile with the least number of features from those listed above. Neocall has the list number of supported OSes. These are BlackBerry and Symbian phones. [4]

NokiaSpyPhones can secretly record events that have happened on the target phone and deliver the information to a mobile phone via SMS or to a secure Internet account, where this information can be viewed from an Internet-enabled computer or mobile phone. They have features such as Call Interception, Call History Recording, Environment Listening, SMS Recording, Email Recording, GPS Tracking, Cell ID Location, SIM Change Notification, and Web Support (i.e. viewing all records of the target phone via a web account and downloading the information retrieved). This software has different packages by considering a number of features supported. Supported OSes include Symbian, Blackberry, and iPhone. [5]

E-stealth, or with a special product named Ultimate Mobile Phone Spy, runs on mobile phones for similar spying purposes. This software is mainly dependent on Bluetooth technology, in other words, the target phone Bluetooth should be used. Features include performing blue bug attack, initiating voice call, retrieving numbers, setting call forward, and retrieving SMS. This software was mainly developed for Symbian phones but now the software supports iPhone and Blackberry. [6] 2.2 Antispy Software

Mobile spying software is considered to be spyware or even a Trojan by antivirus and antispy software developer companies. Antispy Software developers have declared such software as spyware, even if spying software developers claim that a typical application for such tools is to keep track of one's spouse, or to monitor one's children, or just to keep track of one's own phone in use. Antispy software developers share these reasons to declare mobile spying software as spyware. First, if victim have a full featured spy application installed on their phone, they have no privacy, and the one controlling the software has access to all of the information that the phone has. Second, even if the spy software vendors state that their software should be used only in accordance with local laws, the vendors take no responsibility for how their software is actually used, and in many countries such monitoring is viewed as gross violation of personal privacy and can end up in a jail sentence. Also these tools have darker uses such as industrial espionage, identity theft, or stalking. [7] The main types of antispy software are discussed below.

F-Secure Mobile Security is developed by F-Secure to protect mobile phones against mobile spying software. The key features include complete security solution for smart phones with automatic updates, safeguarding one's personal and confidential data, identifying dangerous websites and protecting one's identity online, locating a lost or stolen phone, or the person holding it, and protecting against viruses and other malware. This software provides support for Symbian, iPhone and Blackberry currently. [8]

Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 provides antispy defense with Internet threat protection to ensure the safe use of mobile phones. The software aims at guarding personal data in situations where a phone is lost or stolen, or is targeted while surfing the Internet. Important features include disabling stolen phone even if the SIM card has been replaced, providing Google Maps coordinates, blocking unwanted calls and texts from specified or unknown numbers, providing real-time virus scanning and advanced firewall for all time protection, and hiding designated contacts, calls, and

SMS texts with privacy mode. This software is mainly developed for Symbian, iPhone and Windows. [9]

BullGuard Mobile Anti Virus provides a solution that protects mobile phones from malicious programs that target mobile platforms, including Viruses, Worms and Trojans which have speared to mobile phones. The Antivirus software can scan all incoming traffic such as SMS and MMS messages, Bluetooth, Emails and downloads of malicious programs. If the software has been set to auto-scan, it will detect spying software. This Software is developed only for Symbian and Windows Mobile at the moment. [10]

3 Software Development in Android

3.1 Google Android

"Android is a software Stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. The Android Software Development Kit (SDK) provides the tools and application Programming Interfaces (APIs) necessary to begin developing applications on the Android platform using the Java programming language." [11; 22; 25]

Android is open-source OS that was released by Google with the Open Handset Alliance (ОНА) in November 2007, and this has decreased the barrier to application development. [12; 28]

"The ОНА is a group of 65 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Together we have developed Android™, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform. We are committed to commercially deploy handsets and services using the Android Platform." [13]

Т-Mobile Gl was the first Android mobile handset which was released in the United States in October 2008 and in the United Kingdom in November 2008. Google Android is designed to support both touch-screen phones and those without a touch-screen. The Android timeline is shown in figure 1, showing the most important Android-related events through the years. The timeline extends from 2001 until December 1010 while most of the events have happened between the years 2007 and 2010. From the timeline it is possible to see that more and more mobile phone software and device manufacturing companies are getting interested to use Android. The timeline also shows that more members have joined the ОНА. [13; 14]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Android timeline from September 2001 to December 2010. Modified from Android Academy. [29]

When discussing an Android OS, it is important to see the underlying architecture, since the handset runs a Linux 2.6 kernel in which all applications run in their own virtual machine. The Linux kernel handles all core systems and acts as a hardware abstraction layer. It is designed to act as an abstraction layer between the physical hardware of the handset and the Android software stack. [20, 23-25] The major components of the Android OS are demonstrated in figure 2.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: The major components of the Android OS. Reprinted from Android Developers. [30]

As seen from figure 2 above the architecture include different components from Applications layer which is the top layer to Linux kernel. The components are described briefly below.

Applications are a set of core applications including an email client, SMS program, calendar, maps, browser, contacts, and others. These are written using the Java programming language. [11; 20; 26]

Application Framework allows developers to take advantage of the device hardware, access location information, run background services, set alarms, add notifications to the status bar, and much more. Further, developers can have access to the same framework APIs used by the core applications. This component of the architecture is designed to reuse components; in other words, any application can publish its capabilities and any other application may then make use of them. Many of the sub-components of the Application Framework are discussed below.


Excerpt out of 50 pages


Spying Software Development in Google Android
Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1518 KB
Mobile Spying Software, Google Android, Tracking Software, GPS, Cell-ID
Quote paper
Fissha SeyoumTeshome (Author), 2011, Spying Software Development in Google Android, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/367040


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