How to use TechCrunch's tool to see if your Android device has been compromised

Tool matches phone's IMEI number against leaked list

Google-owned Android is one of the most widely used smartphone operating systems. Bloomberg
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TechCrunch, an American technology and business website, on Wednesday launched a spyware detection tool to help users see if their devices have been compromised by spyware.

The new tool will help users detect if any spyware apps such as TheTruthSpy have made it on to their mobile phones, TechCrunch said in a statement.

It also gives suggestions for actions to take should a user find their device has been compromised.

“These stealthy apps are often surreptitiously installed by someone with physical access to a person’s device and are designed to stay hidden from home screens,” said Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch's security editor.

Spyware is malicious software that compromises a user's device, collects information and transmits it to third parties without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

These spyware apps let third parties — who are often known to the victims — gain access to confidential phone data such as call details, text messages, contacts, location data, personal videos and photos in real time.

“In June, a source provided TechCrunch with a cache of files dumped from the servers of TheTruthSpy’s internal network … [it] included a list of every Android device that was compromised by any of the spyware apps in TheTruthSpy’s network up to April 2022,” Mr Whittaker said.

However, the leaked information did not have enough details for TechCrunch to find the owners of compromised devices.

That’s why they built the spyware look-up tool.

The tool works by comparing individual devices against the leaked list of unique device identifiers, such as IMEI numbers.

An IMEI number is a 14- to 15-digit number that is unique to a phone. It can be found by typing *#06# on the keypad.

“The tool allows anyone to check for themselves if their Android device was compromised by these apps, and how to remove the spyware … if it’s safe to do so,” Mr Whittaker said.

Google-owned Android is one of the most widely used smartphone operating systems. It was used on more than three billion active devices around the world as of May last year.

How to check if your Android device was compromised

Visit this webpage from a trusted device. Enter the IMEI number or device advertising ID of the device you suspect to be compromised into the look-up tool.

If the tool shows a “match”, it means that IMEI number was on the leaked list.

Updated: August 17, 2022, 8:52 PM
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