At CeBIT this week, we met up with the endlessly fascinating Mikko Hyppönen of F-Secure. He told us how hackers are thinking up ever-more ingenious methods of hijacking your online bank accounts.

Hyppönen also works as a consultant to many European security services, advising about the threats posed by viruses, Trojans and hackers. He told us that there is a growing concern in the security community that mobile phone viruses are a much bigger threat than anyone knows.

“There is currently a bit of an epidemic of mobile phone viruses. And that’s why security companies are now making anti-virus software for mobile devices. But the main problem with phones is not viruses, but spying tools,” Hyppönen said.

“Once a spying tool is installed on a phone it becomes invisible and the user of the phone has no idea that it’s running in the background. It then reports everything you do, every phone call, text, email you make or receive.

Spying device

“If your phone has GPS like the N95 it even reports your location so that the person spying will know precisely what you’re doing, who you’re talking to and exactly where you are on the planet, down to a few square feet.

“Phones are the perfect spying device because we carry these things with us all the time, everywhere we go. We thought that this kind of thing would only be used by the security services like the CIA and MI5, but since we’ve been working on real cases, the majority of the cases are actually abusive or jealous husbands.”

Hyppönen demonstrated to us the ease with which normal people can get hold of spying software which will enable them to spy on anyone who has a mobile phone.

“And it’s really easy to do, you just go to a website like Lexispy which is based in Bangkok, and you can purchase the software which you then download to your target’s phone. It’s a big site so you can see there’s a market for it. You can see on the site it costs €100 so all you have to do is borrow someone’s phone for two minutes, download it and then give the phone back.

“You can then log into the site using your password and you’ll see a screen which shows you all the calls and texts your target has sent and received. You can see all the numbers of people that have been in touch with your target. And it’s even possible to listen in to their calls. It’s pretty bad – that’s why you need antivirus on your phone.”