FTC Bans Stalkerware Company from Selling its Products

By Bill Toulas / October 23, 2019

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and more specifically, its Bureau of Consumer Protection has decided to intervene and cease the operations of Retina-X, a company that sells stalkerware. The reason for this unprecedented decision was that the company seemed to be unable to protect their victims' data from unauthorized access, as a hacker had repeatedly breached their systems and gained access to personal information of many thousands of people. Retina-X is selling products under the following names: “Mobile Spy”, “Phone Sheriff”, “Teen Shield”, and “Sniper Spy”. Their website looks like it has been abandoned already, having a data breach notice that dates back to May 2018.

Taking all of the above into account, the FTC just banned the company from selling their software until they ensure that they can do it safely. What this means is to only collect and provide data in a completely legal context, meaning that the mobile user would know about it, and the customer on the receiving end would have a legal right to monitor the user. Such cases could be police officers monitoring criminals on probation, or a parent monitoring their child, or an employee monitoring their field service agents. Anything else is outside the scope of what’s legally allowed, so there can be no more spouse stalking from processes that are running hidden in the background.

As the FTC clarifies, Retina-X has been troubling them for quite a while now, and not only because of the user data leaks and their serpentine monitoring methods. The apps also opened up a set of vulnerabilities on the mobile devices of the users, and those people never realized it. Retina-X failed to address the above issues, as well as to realize that hackers have repeatedly accessed their cloud storage systems (first time in 2017), and so a banning order was put in action. For each violation that will come from now on, the penalty is set at $42530.

If you are worried about having a stalking app hiding on your phone, you should consider some common signs. Does your battery drain faster than usual? Do you see unexplained charges on your phone bill? Is your device stubbornly denying to shut down? These are all indications that something may be hiding and running in the background. Finally, if your abuser knows things about you that they couldn’t possibly know, and if that person had physical access to your device at any time in the past, it is possible that you’re being tracked by stalkerware.

Have you had any experience that matches the above? Let us know in the comments down below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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