|Authorities urge the country to tighten online security after 14,000 mobile phones and phone carriers were hacked. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyet
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam should strengthen the management of businesses operating in the IT and Internet sector in order to curb the increasing hi-tech security threats.
Experts voiced their concern over the recent case of a private firm, which sold software that allowed a few hundred customers to spy on more than 14,000 private cell phones users.
Viet Hong Company, based in Ha Noi's Thanh Xuan District, advertises its Ptracker app that helps users track other people's Android phones, read their SMS messages and contact books and record their phone calls. The app can even turn on features like camera, 3G or GPRS connections of the target devices from the tracker phone.
Smartphone users should install anti-spyware
HA NOI — As spy software becomes diverse and more sophisticated, users should install security software for smartphones, including anti-spyware.
Ngo Tuan Anh, deputy director of Bkav company's cyber security division, made the statement on June 24 even as the Viet Hong Technology Company Limited is being investigated for installing spy software in more than 14,000 Vietnamese smartphones.
After the incident, Bkav uploaded anti-spyware into the free version of its Mobile Security on Google Play. Experts of the firm said that smartphones which have spy software would run abnormally slow or their battery would run out fast.
They also said that one reason for spy software getting installed in smartphones was careless behaviour by users, such as lending their mobiles to others or downloading software with sensitive content and attached with malware. However, in order to detect and solve the issues, users need to take technical measures, they added. — VNS
According to Le Hong Son, chief of the Ha Noi Police Department's hi-tech crimes division (PC50), the company had earned nearly VND1 billion (US$47,000) from the illegal activity.
Son told the Tien Phong newspaper that Viet Hong is not the only case PC50 found recently as there are many illegal applications that are still being sold online.
He said the department was investigating a number of online crimes including theft of personal information, to illegal access to bank accounts and even blackmail.
"As online crimes become more sophisticated, it requires tighter management while providing licences to IT and Internet-based businesses with more specific regulation on what service and product they can provide," Son said.
Son pointed out the case of Hong Ha company, which was recently granted a licence to provide information technology and telecom services. But the licence did not specify what kind of IT and telecom products they were allowed to provide.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Ha Noi Bar Association, Nguyen Hong Tuyen said that with regard to the spying on 14,000 mobile phones, mobile carriers were equally responsible for their poor security management.
Tuyen also called for tighter management on online trading of illegal applications, which was still rampant on the Internet, especially spy applications.
In the case of Viet Hong Technology Company Limited, it started selling its Ptracker software to individuals and businesses in September of last year. But they stopped exactly around the time they were busted.
Once installed on target cell phones (Android smartphones only), the software provides access to messages, contacts, and voice messages.
The stolen information was archived on Viet Hong's servers and accessed by using a paid account to log in to the company's website.
The software did not show up on the phone screens and couldn't be uninstalled except when the phone was formatted.
An advanced version could never be removed, even after formatting the device, according to the news agency.
PC50 officers and inspectors from Ha Noi's Department of Information and Communications discovered when the company was busted that 670 customers were using its software and 14,140 cell phones had already been compromised.
The case has been handed over to the Ha Noi police for further investigation.
Viet Nam's existing laws prohibit the creation and installation of malicious software on digital devices for the purposes of collecting personal information or taking control of said devices. — VNS